How do I Manage a Harassment/Bullying/Discrimination Complaint?

Assess your Workplace Systems and Climate

What Options does the Complainant Have?

A complainant has up to eight options available:

How do I Manage an Informal Approach?

Generally and wherever possible, treat the approach with discretion and confidentiality.

However, in certain situations, this is neither possible, nor appropriate, because of your legal responsibilities. These include situations involving:

In these cases formal procedures must be followed.

When you receive an informal approach:

With the complainant's approval you may take the following actions:

How do I Manage a Formal In-House Complaint?

In every instance, where the complainant requests formal action be taken on an allegation of harassment, discrimination and/or bullying, the employer:

When you receive a formal complaint:

How do I Manage a Complaint made through Health and Safety Incident Reporting?

Forms of harassment, discrimination and/or bullying such as verbal abuse, intimidation, and threatening behaviour, may not result in physical injury, but may have significant effects on the psychological well being of employees. The behaviour of people in the workplace, where it impacts on the mental and physical well being of employees falls under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.

Once an incident report is received, you will need to:

How do I Manage a Complaint made through Personal Grievance Procedures?

The complainant may choose to take out a personal grievance case under their Employment Agreement, or the Employment Relations Act 2000. It is compulsory for every employment contract to contain personal grievance procedures.

In circumstances surrounding discrimination and sexual/racial harassment, as defined in the Human Rights Act 1993, a complaint may be made to the Human Rights Commission. (In such instances the complainant must choose one avenue of procedure, not both). If the employee takes out a personal grievence:

What Happens if the Grievance cannot be Resolved by the Employer?

If the problem cannot be resolved between the employer and employee, then either party may take their case to the Employment Relations Authority.

Remedies for Personal Grievance

An employee with a grievance claim may ask the employer for any remedy the employee thinks appropriate. If the grievance goes to the Employment Relations Authority, the following types of remedy can be asked for:

How do I Manage a Complaint to the Human Rights Commission?

Commission mediators try to help the complainant and the person who’s conduct the complaint is about, to resolve the dispute.

The Commission does not work like a court, it cannot order people to do anything. It works informally, and resolves matters by mediating between the parties involved.

Settlement can involve a wide variety of arrangements, such as an assurance that the behaviour will not be repeated, monetary compensation or other remedies appropriate to the case.

What Happens when Mediation Does Not Work?

If the matter cannot be resolved, it is referred to the Proceedings Commissioner, who decides whether it should go to the Equal Opportunities Tribunal for a decision. The Tribunal works like a court, and can award damages to a complainant, and order other remedies.

The Equal Opportunities Tribunal works like a court, and can award damages to a complainant, and order other remedies.

The remedies obtainable before the Tribunal include:

The damages awarded, can cover:

How do I Manage a Complaint to the Police?

People can take a harassment and/or bullying complaint directly to the police if they have been subjected to:

The Domestic Violence Act 1995 provides a means to give protection to any person who has shared a domestic relationship with another person, and who has then been subjected to violence by that other person.

Similarly, the Harassment Act 1997 protects those being victimised by someone other than a person with whom they have shared a domestic relationship.

The police will investigate the complaint, and if they feel it is warranted, will lay charges against the person involved.

If you become aware that a complaint has been made against someone in your workplace:

Get in Touch with Jump

If you need help, or you answered no or unsure to any of the questions in the assessment tool, then Jump Business Solutions can help you. Phone us on +64 6 754 8987 or +64 27 450 5271 or email and Jump will come to you, discover your needs, and develop a solution that will create real, long-term and positive change for you and your business.