New Trend of Upwards Bullying Concerns Employment Law Experts

Contrary to the beliefs of many employees (and supervisors, management and employers) bullying is not limited to employers bullying colleagues or being bullied by their superiors, those in positions of authority can also be bullied.  According to employment law experts the trend of “upward bullying” is becoming all too common in Queensland workplaces.

A federal parliamentary inquiry last year into workplace bullying found that workplace bullying cost Australia’s economy between $6 billion and $36 billion a year, however a new trend has emerged -that of reverse bullying or “upward bullying”. Bullying is certainly not limited to supervisor towards subordinate but can actually be the other way around with employees bullying those above them.

The trend of employees bullying those in positions of authority also seems to be on the rise with many bosses complaining about it. It usually occurs when a workers performance is being questioned or they have some other problem in the workplace resort to bullying their supervisors and managers or filling in false complaints against them.

Ironically experts are concerned that anti-bullying laws which come into effect in July this year are likely to contribute even more to this trend of “upwards bullying”. Changes to the Fair Work Act will allow workers to take colleagues to the Fair Work Commission to resolve bullying complaints.

According to Gold Coast employment lawyer Scott McSwan, of McKays Solicitors, female bosses and younger managers are suffering the most from this disturbing trend. Although everyone’s idea of what constitutes bullying may differ slightly, bosses have told of their suffering at the hands of bullying workers, complaining of migraines, sleeplessness, anxiety attacks, clinical depression, eczema and sleeplessness, according to McSwan.

According to Australian law bullying can be defined as “repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety”, migraines, anxiety, depression, eczema etc. clearly falls into this category and in most cases affects a person’s ability to function optimally and therefore inhibits their ability to do their job efficiently.

This article from explains more:

There are increasing complaints about employees intimidating and threatening their bosses and it seems that female bosses and managers who are younger are frequently on the receiving end.

Workers whose performance is being questioned, others who have been the subject of discipline or even been passed over for a pay rise or promotion are said to be retaliating by either abusing supervisors or managers or filing false complaints.

Bosses have been talking about how they are suffering because of being bullied with symptoms such as migraines, lack of sleep, anxiety, depression and eczema.

Scott McSwan an employment lawyer on the Gold Coast was quoted in The Australian saying that it was normal for us to perceive bosses as the perpetrators of bullying but that is changing.

He said that upwards bullying is on the rise and the concern is that it will increase with the updated anti-bullying laws coming into effect from July 2013.

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