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Prevent victimisation in the workplace or face legal action

by , 20 June 2013
According to media reports, Charlie Sheen has allegedly had actress Selma Blair sacked from the sitcom Anger Management. It's alleged the pair were feuding after Selma accused Sheen of being a 'menace to work with'. This infuriated Sheen who then demanded the show's producers release Selma or else he would quit the show, All4women reports. Be careful not to dismiss this as just another Hollywood drama, it could be happening in your company. One of your employees could be facing victimisation right under your nose. Here are five tips you can use to help prevent workplace victimisation.

77.8% of South Africans say that they've experienced some form of victimisation during their careers, says FSP Business. This could include your employees.

And you have a legal duty to protect all your employees from victimisation in the workplace.

If you don't, your victimised employees can institute a civil case against you for damages, resign and claim constructive dismissal under the Labour Relations Act. You can even be sued in the Labour Court for unfair discrimination.

But this isn't the only consequence.

'Victimised employees suffer a great deal. And can be subjected to physical, mental and emotional harm in the hands of one of your employees,' says The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.

The most frequently reported incidents of workplace bullying, abuse and victimisation include:
  • Talking about someone behind his/her back.
  • Interrupting others while they're speaking or working.
  • Flaunting status or authority; acting in a condescending manner.
  • Belittling someone's opinion.
  • Mood swings.
  • Mailing to return phone calls or respond to memos.
  • Giving others the silent treatment.
  • Insults, yelling, swearing, name-calling, threats, shouting, rude gestures and aggressive posturing.
  • Staring, dirty looks, avoiding eye contact or other negative eye contact.
  • Undermining actions by a co-worker.
  • Spreading stories and half-truths.
  • Humiliating an employee in the presence of others.
  • Ridicule, teasing and sarcasm.
Luckily, you can stop this from happening in your company. 'Say no to that bully and end the cycle,' advises FSP Business.

Use these five tips to help prevent workplace victimisation
  1. Develop a work culture of caring for each other, where employees know and understand the importance of compliance.
  2. Implement an anti-victimisation policy as a condition of employment.
  3. Make sure the anti-victimisation policy is properly explained during employee orientation.
  4. Have employees sign a 'pact' where they promise not to victimise each other. 'You can use this as evidence in settling issues around victimisation since employees can't claim they didn't know about your stance on victimisation,' explains the Loose Leaf.
  5. Take immediate disciplinary action against any employee who breaks the policy.
Remember, you'll find it difficult to defend your case if you haven't taken steps to curb workplace victimisation.

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