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Bullied teachers and stress claims: your rights at work

3 minute read

Workers' compensation

When we think of bullying in schools we tend to think of students.. But what about teachers who are facing unprecedented workload pressures, or instances of colleagues, principals, parents or students bullying teachers? Teachers (and all employees) have the right to work in a safe environment, free from adult bullying and harassment. Here we unpack what teachers can do about bullying and explain how to make a stress claim.

What is workplace bullying for teachers?

According to Safe Work Australia, workplace bullying is ‘repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed at a worker.’ It can create a risk to not only your physical health, but your mental health too.

Recent research by La Trobe University found that for teachers, workplace bullying can include:

  • Verbal abuse including swearing and yelling

  • Physical violence

  • Property damage

Teachers in Australian schools experience student bullying, as well as adult bullying from parents, colleagues and senior school leaders. Other common examples of workplace bullying that teachers can experience include:

  • Insulting or intimidating behaviour

  • Sexual harassment

  • Deliberately assigning tasks which cannot be realistically completed

  • Excluding a person from working with others or from workplace activities

What teachers can do about bullying

If you’re a teacher experiencing workplace bullying there are steps you can take to stand up for yourself and protect your rights.

  1. Check to see if your workplace has a bullying policy

  2. Keep a diary record of the repeated unreasonable behaviour including your responses to it

  3. Talk to someone you trust about the behaviour you’re experiencing - this could be a trusted co-worker, yourhead of faculty, a bullied teachers support network or your workplace health and safety officer

  4. Make a formal complaint verbally and in writing in accordance with your workplace’s bullying and harassment policy (if it has one)

  5. Seek appropriate care for your physical or mental health, whether that’s your GP or a psychologist

  6. Request medical certificates and / or mental health reports, as these can support your claim for a workers’ compensation stress claim or another workers’ compensation claim

  7. Seek legal advice at any time while you’re experiencing student bullying or adult bullying in your workplace) - our team of workers’ compensation experts can help by assessing your situation and advising on your best course of action

Mental injury workers’ compensation claims

A La Trobe study found that nearly 60% of respondents had at least one experience of parent-led bullying. And over 70% had experienced student-led bullying.

Workplace bullying for teachers can have serious, long-term consequences, including leaving the profession. Teachers have a right to feel safe at work. If you’re a teacher who’s experienced workplace bullying, you may be eligible to make a mental injury claim for workers’ compensation. It’s important that your lawyer can prove:

  • The identity of your bully

  • Your bullying took place at work (which could include work emails)

  • The bullying has caused a mental injury (such as stress, depression or anxiety) which has had a demonstrably profound impact on your life Your employer failed in their duty of care to you to provide a safe workplace

Our client Rebecca*

Rebecca was an experienced teacher aide who developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression after a student bullying teacher experience. It was found that Rebecca’s school workplace had failed to put measures in place or provide an appropriate plan to protect her. Our team of expert workers’ compensation lawyers successfully helped Rebecca make a stress claim and secure the compensation she deserved to enable her to move forward with her life.

How we can help you right wrong

If you’re a teacher suffering from a mental injury that occurred at work, was caused by work, or you’ve made a stress claim that has been rejected, get in touch today for an obligation-free consultation. You may be eligible to seek compensation for your medical expenses, loss of income and job retraining. We do our best up-front to make sure you understand your legal claim, including whether your claim is on our No Win No Fee* basis. Our team can help you understand your rights and entitlements. We’ll also provide advice tailored to your situation, lay out all the options and have your back each step of the way.

To get started, submit an enquiry form or speak to one of our experts over the phone.

*Conditions apply

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