Dob in a bully

MAY 2010

AN ingrained ‘anti-dobbing’ culture could be hindering efforts to stamp out workplace bullying and harassment, according to Harmers Workplace Lawyers.

It remains a serious issue for Australian businesses and employers fearful of building a ‘culture of complaint’ should be aware there are ways to encourage employees to report bullying while discouraging proliferation of false claims.

General counsel Greg Robertson, says the first step for employers in creating an anti-bullying workplace culture is to address the cultural issue of employees refusing to ‘dob in’ their colleagues.

“Australian workplaces tend to have a ‘don’t dob in’ mindset, which hinders attempts to eradicate workplace bullying,” he says.

“A number of bullying cases recently have highlighted situations where employees have, for whatever reason, stood by and done nothing to report or stop the incident. These cases contain lessons for all employers.

“Staff should be encouraged to come forward and alert senior management to any incidents of bullying, harassment or discrimination they may witness. They need to know that any form of mistreatment will be taken seriously and that their role in alerting management to the issue will remain confidential.

“Having said that, employers understandably do not want to create a ‘culture of complaint’ within their workplace, in which false, petty or vexatious bullying claims are continually brought to the attention of management.

“For this reason, we recommend employers establish a policy whereby employees face some form of reprimand if they bring a complaint found to be false or unfounded.”

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