He did what people in power have done for centuries. He used and exploited those who worked for him and those who wanted to work for him, to serve his own need.
He harassed, he bullied, he coerced and then he threatened anyone who dared to challenge his behaviour.
The result for Harvey Weinstein has been life changing. There is not a person in the developed world who doesn’t know what it is alleged that he has done. The reputational damage caused by this scandal, will be long-lasting and potentially indefinite. Needless to say, life for that Harvey, will never be the same.
If only the repercussions in the New Zealand employment world for bullying in the workplace were so public, so easy to verify (the strength in the Weinstein case was the number of women who came forward with the same claims) and the justice so swift.
Unfortunately it’s not, and the burden of proof in organisational bullying and/or harassment cases often rests with the employee who (we recognise) is starting from a position of trauma (with the good faith in their organisational relationship in tatters), and who must then try to construct a join-the-dots of what happened, of who said what and when.
Thankfully, the shining light in the workplace bullying landscape is WorkSafe who have ensured that employees and employers are finally getting better “bullying in the workplace” resources.
WorkSafe NZ have developed a “bullying in the workplace toolbox” and includes a checklist of behaviour and action examples which can help individuals identify whether the experiences they are having in their workplace, might be considered bullying.
WorkSafe have also helped to define what bullying is (repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that can lead to physical or psychological harm).
They have also defined repeated behaviour (persistent (occurs more than once) and can involve a range of actions over time) and unreasonable behaviour (actions that a reasonable person in the same circumstances would see as unreasonable. It includes victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening a person).
For a bullying claim to have any chance of success, an employee must show that the behaviour they experienced meets this criteria. The more specific the examples and details, the greater the likelihood of success.
A question we may pose in this situation is “what is the worst thing your organisation has done to you?” as the starting point in our conversation with you about your experiences at work. This is not to say that there is always a “worst thing” and we recognise that your experience might be a lot of little things repeated over time.
What we do understand and what we focus on, is how these actions make you feel.
Employee claims of organisational bullying are not easy. They are difficult for both employees and employers.
The initial conversations can often be difficult and emotional and this is where our advocates can lend their support and expertise.
The process may not be straightforward and can vary depending upon individual circumstances, but our advocates can talk you through the steps of the process and the types of outcomes you may expect.
Our advocates are more than happy to talk through your situation and identify what we can do to help and support you.
One final thought about the Weinstein scandal and the saddest part for me, is the number of people who knew what was going on and stood idly by. Bullying within organisations can be the same, and the chances are, that if you are being bullied at work, that you are not the only one.
On the flipside, you may not be the recipient of bullying behaviour, but if you know someone that is, will you also stand idly by?
Emma Moss is a WorkLaw Advocate who has spent the last decade working in senior human resource roles. She is currently undertaking a law degree through the Auckland University of Technology (AUT).
If you think you’re being bullied or are concerned about a situation you have in your workplace, it costs nothing to have an initial conversation with our advocates, please get in touch on 0800 no win no fee (0800669466) or complete the contact form below and we’ll talk soon.
Employers are prohibited from workplace discrimination.
Experiencing workplace discrimination? We can help you on the following grounds;
ethnic or national origins
sex (including pregnancy or childbirth)
marital or family status
religious or ethical belief
involvement in union activities, which includes claiming or helping others to claim a benefit under an employment agreement, or taking or intending to take employment relations education leave.
These grounds are the same as the grounds in the Human Rights Act. In some circumstances, different treatment of employees on these grounds is acceptable.
If you believe your employer is discriminating against you on one or more of the prohibited grounds listed above – it is important to seek assistance at an early stage. Our company can provide representation to ensure that your rights are upheld.
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Sexual harassment is any unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature.
Under the Human Rights Act 1993 and the Employment Relations Act 2000 you can take a personal grievance for sexual harassment.
Under the legislation sexual harassment may include: An employer or employer’s representative making a request, directly or indirectly, of an employee for sexual intercourse, sexual contact, or other form of sexual activity that contains:
an implied or overt promise of preferential treatment in that employee’s employment, or
an implied or overt threat of detrimental treatment in that employee’s employment, or
an implied or overt threat about the employee’s present or future employment status
An employer or employer’s representative using language (written or spoken), visual material or physical behaviour of a sexual nature:
that is unwelcome or offensive to that employee (whether or not this is conveyed to the employer or representative), and
that is either repeated or is so significant that it has a detrimental effect on the employee’s employment, job performance, or job satisfaction
If you believe you are being sexually harassed in the workplace you need to discuss it first with your employer. We can help you with the procedure from the first step and any grievance raised. We can help you take a case for sexual harassment to the Authority or the Human Rights Commission.