Humiliation, exclusion, harassment and unwanted sexual advances.New research has found adult employees are increasingly finding themselves struggling at work and are victims of cruel and juvenile taunts that were once exclusively reserved for the school yard.
However, is workplace bullying on the rise, or has there been a shift in culture to where it is no longer tolerated? With employees more confident to report abuse.
Government body, Safe Work Australia, has released a report that found one in ten employees claim they have been bullied at work, either by a boss, colleague or customer.
The research also found employees believe that it is not co-workers, but supervisors who commit majority of the bullying.
Alarmingly, instances of isolated conflict are even more prevalent, with one in three employees saying they have been verbally berated, while another one in four have said to have been publicly humiliated.
One in five also report to have been physically assaulted by a customer, client or in the medical industry, a patient.
Safe Work Australia found that bullying is most likely to occur in the power and water supply sectors or the transport and mining industries. It is also women who are more likely to be physically assaulted or sexually harassed.
On the other hand men are subject to being sworn at or racially abused.
And the implications of such bullying don’t come cheap.
These heartless acts are costing us $36 billion a year in healthcare and lost business productivity, according to the report.
Meanwhile a number of women have spoken out about what it feels like when a customer crosses the line.
Fairfax spoke to about 20 women who work across a range of industries including hospitality, retail, education and health.
Many women confessed to verbal or physical harassment and in some cases rape and stalking incidents also occurred.
Many employees believe putting up with such events is “just part of the job” however many are unaware that a change to the Sex Discrimination Act has made it illegal for customers to sexually harass employees.
However the lack of campaigns to protect staff against these acts has many fuming.
“If we were seeing those sorts of injury rates for a piece of machinery, you’d expect to see ads on TV, there would be approved training, there’d be prosecutions,” workplace relations and discrimination lawyer Lisa Heap argued.
“You’d have to conclude it’s entrenched sexism in regulating authorities.”
Any unwelcome sexual behaviour which makes a person feel humiliated, offended or intimated falls under the new law.