Safety, Bullying and Discrimination in the Workplace

Bullying and harassment in the workplace

Bullying is unwanted, offensive and frightening behaviour and can come from co-workers, supervisors or customers.

Bullying frequently consists of a series of acts or incidents which, in isolation, appear trivial but, put together, can be devastating. A bully can deny that bullying is occurring when single incidents are involved but cannot do so when there is a series of incidents.

Bullying can involve:

  • yelling or abusive language
  • laughs or insults because of your lack of experience, appearance, race, religion or sexual preference
  • physical abuse – people pushing, poking, hitting or threatening to hurt you.

If you feel bullied:

  • tell the person to stop
  • keep a diary of events – this will support your allegations of bullying by providing you with clear recall of all the details
  • tell your employer, your human resources manager or occupational health and safety representative.

Bullying is against the law. 

For anyone under 18 years of age it may also be considered child abuse. If you feel this is happening to you, you can get advice on your particular situation from SafeWork NSW on 13 10 50.

For any worker being bullied or for more information, contact SafeWork NSW on 13 10 50.

Discrimination in the workplace

Discrimination is treating someone unfairly because they happen to belong to a particular group of people.

In NSW many types of discrimination are against the law. Discrimination laws help give everyone an equal opportunity or a 'fair go'.

The following types of discrimination are illegal:

Carers' responsibilities

You need to care for or support a child or other 'immediate family member'.


You are a woman or because you are a man. Discrimination against a woman because she is pregnant can also be sex discrimination. Sexual harassment is also against the law.


Because of your colour, nationality, descent, ethnic or ethno-religious background.


People think you are too young or too old for the job.

Marital status

You are single, married or living in a de facto relationship.

Homosexual or lesbian

You are gay or lesbian or someone thinks you are gay or lesbian.


You are transgender (you live or seek to live as a member of the opposite gender (sex) to your birth gender) or others think you are transgender.

By relation or association

The sex, race, age, marital status, homosexuality/lesbianism, transgender (trans-sexuality) or disability of one of your relatives, friends or work colleagues.


You have a disability, had one in the past or may have one in the future, or someone thinks you have a disability. This includes physical, intellectual and psychiatric disabilities, learning and emotional disorders.

Need help?

If you are being discriminated against - contact the Anti-Discrimination Board (ADB) for advice and help on 9268 5544 or 1800 670 812 (for rural and regional NSW callers) or for young women visit Sex Discrimination Act (Australian Human Rights Commission).