A recent Fair Work Commission (FWC) case has highlighted that sending gossip about a worker can be regarded as bullying, and be subject to workplace safety law.
The case involved a worker spreading unpleasant misinformation about another worker and using foul language when greeted by the person in the morning.
The Commissioner separated the two issues of foul language and gossip, noting that co-workers are not required to like each other and whilst foul language crosses over from normal social interaction for most of us, it does not constitute bullying unless the behaviour is repeated.
The spreading of gossip did constitute bullying as it was unwelcome and repeated.
The employer in this case was advised to improve their policies on “dealing with co-workers”, escalation of concerns and training for all staff.