September 23, 2016
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You may think the answer to this question should be unmistakable. However many employees fail to recognise when they are being victimised by their colleagues or superiors via email communications.
Due to a general lack of awareness about what constitutes victimisation in the workplace, many victims do not know their rights. In addition, various psychological effects of victimisation and bullying may cause a person to blame themselves, experience guilt or fail to otherwise appreciate that their colleague’s behaviour is unacceptable.
Identifying and putting an end to victimising behaviour is vital to preventing unnecessary stress and stress-related health complications including anxiety depression, hypertension, heart attacks and strokes.
Victimisation includes any behaviour that subjects or threatens to subject you to detriment because you are seeking to avail yourself of your workplace rights, such as making a complaint of discrimination or harassment, exercising your health and safety rights or taking carers’ or maternity leave.
Email victimisation can include sending emails, which contain lies or harmful gossip, threats or intimidation, bullying remarks, baseless or exaggerated accusations or constant unfounded criticism.
If you feel that a colleague’s email correspondence to you may constitute victimising behaviour, there are steps you can take to determine whether you should take it further.
The first step is to start collecting evidence of your experience including all emails that have an intimidating or threatening tone. Take notes about how those emails made you feel. Determine when it first started, how long it has been happening and any initial event that may have triggered it.
If the start of the behaviour coincided with your involvement in a discrimination or harassment complaint, or the content of emails includes references to such a complaint, then you may have adequate grounds to allege victimisation.
Ask yourself whether your colleague’s behaviours individually or collectively could be regarded as reasonable administrative actions which fit with your office’s code of conduct, or whether they would be considered misconduct. Explicit or implied threats, intimidations or unfounded criticisms are generally unacceptable in the workplace.
Have the offending emails resulted in you feeling taunted, teased, singled out, belittled, degraded, patronised or as though you are being treated unfairly? If so, this is an indication that you may be subject to bullying behaviour which may constitute victimisation if they are in response to you exercising your workplace rights.
While accusing a colleague of victimising behaviour is not something that should be undertaken lightly, it is important that you do not suffer in silence. Workplace victimisation is prohibited under state and federal legislation and there are legal avenues available to you to make a complaint and get relief.
If you think you’re being victimised at work, it’s important that you seek reliable legal advice as soon as possible. Contact a worker compensation lawyer to discuss your situation now.