Australian tribunal rules that unfriending a colleague on Facebook can constitute workplace bullying

By midian182 ยท 24 replies
Sep 25, 2015
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  1. An Australian workplace tribunal has ruled that a woman's decision to unfriend a colleague on Facebook after a dispute at work could be constituted as bullying. The Fair Work Commission said that when Lisa Bird, a real estate sales administrator, deleted Rachel Roberts as a friend it showed a “lack of emotional maturity” and was “indicative of unreasonable behavior.”

    Roberts alleges she was the victim of bullying while working at the View real estate agency in Launceston, Tasmania, between November 2013 and January this year. She told the commission she was unable to sleep, was depressed and highly anxious as a result of the alleged hostile behavior toward her. A doctor certified her as unfit to work in February.

    The unfriending occurred after Roberts, a property agent, complained to the boss of the company - who is also Bird's husband - that none of her properties were being displayed in the shop window. This led to Bird allegedly accusing Roberts of being a “naughty little schoolgirl running to teacher” during an aggressive meeting. Roberts told the commission she left the office crying and when later checked Facebook to see if Bird had commented on the incident, she found that her colleague had unfriended her.

    The ‘schoolgirl’ comment… is evidence of an inappropriate dealing with Ms Roberts which was provocative and disobliging. I am of the view that Mrs Bird took the first opportunity to draw a line under the relationship with Ms Roberts on 29 January 2015, when she removed her as a friend on Facebook as she did not like Ms Roberts and would prefer not to have to deal with her.

    Roberts also claims Bird failed to say hello to her in the mornings and delivered photocopies and printouts to other staff members but not to Roberts. The commission found that Bird’s behavior posed a risk to Robert’s health and it has issued an order to stop the bullying. The tribunal is unable to award compensation; it can only oblige all involved in the case to reach a resolution.

    Legal experts have said that while the case does not mean unfriending someone can automatically constitute bullying, it can be seen as part of a wider pattern of unreasonable behavior.

    Image credit: jurgenfr / shutterstock

    Permalink to story.

  2. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,744   +3,710

    What a crock of kangaroo sh_t! Disassociating yourself from someone is not bullying.
    Wendig0, dms96960, Techman3 and 2 others like this.
  3. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,720   +860

    Pure stupid.
  4. Nobina

    Nobina TS Evangelist Posts: 1,343   +845

    Can't really add anything to these 2 comments above.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  5. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,177   +990

    What a crock - - I guess saying "good bye" is criminal too?
    cliffordcooley, Wendig0 and dms96960 like this.

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,258   +455

    Hah... what a joke. Actually removing yourself from further communication could be considered a more mature way of handling the situation. What a bunch of PC babies... oh wait, was that bullying?
    cliffordcooley, Wendig0 and dms96960 like this.
  7. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,741   +3,757

    On the one hand, this is symptomatic of the boomer and post-boomer generations' inability to develop past 13.

    On the other, I'd be lying if I didn't admit to a slight case of schadenfreude. This type of stupidity is ultimately the product of the social justice policies implemented throughout major institutions and the HR wing of the corporate world. Progressives demanded people's feelings be protected by law, and now they are.
    EClyde and dms96960 like this.
  8. Hexic

    Hexic TS Maniac Posts: 333   +165

    Australia is indicative of some unrealistic policies. But this article's title seems misleading. It has nothing to do with the unfriending as an act in and of itself. It has to do with legitimate workplace harassment that just so happened to result in an unfriend. Happens alot.
    robb213 and cliffordcooley like this.
  9. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 1,946   +765

    From my point of view, it is not a phenomenon limited to those generations.
  10. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,340   +1,438

    Trigger warning
    wiyosaya likes this.
  11. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    This is a crock of BS. Roberts & Bird should've settled the dispute like mature adults and ladies, like pulling each others hair and clawing at each others eyes. This is how disputes were properly settled in the past and there's no need to change it. Running to court just costs money. :D
    dms96960, Techman3 and cliffordcooley like this.
  12. Brandon Dawson

    Brandon Dawson TS Rookie

    They should have just settled in in social media with quippy facebook posts like real mature adults do.
    dms96960 likes this.
  13. MoeJoe

    MoeJoe TS Guru Posts: 712   +382

    Emo brats are everywhere is would appear.

    And here I thought Aussie's had their s h ! t together ...
  14. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,741   +3,757

    It's origins go back at least to the early 1900s in America. I'd tentatively say the foundational ideas go back as far as the 1700s and the birth of feminism. But reaching the threshold of parody... that's boomers, gen x, millennial, etc. None of the other generations ever had real power or influence insofar as social justice.

    That's always the case with Australia.
  15. Kenrick

    Kenrick TS Evangelist Posts: 571   +373

    My rule if I have a facebook,

    Dont add officemates. Most coworkers are politicians.
    davislane1 likes this.
  16. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 1,946   +765

    I'd have to say that we may have reached the rare instance of agreement on a subject. :)

    But, does anyone, sitting below the bird on the branch in the tree, ;) ever have any real power in this world?
  17. Camikazi

    Camikazi TS Evangelist Posts: 925   +284

    Is this being spearheaded by the same people who banned clapping at a conference and replaced it with Jazz Hands because clapping could "trigger" people?

    PS: How does someone unfriending you make you unfit to work? I do not understand it and probably never will, it just makes no sense.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2015
  18. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,741   +3,757

    What gave them away?
  19. What's next, making 'not smiling to strangers as you walk by' illegal?
    cliffordcooley and EClyde like this.
  20. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,741   +3,757

    Depends. Is the smile subconsciously hostile (I.e. a signal of confidence)? Doing so might be seen as a type of microaggression. Or, if done to a female, sexual harassment.
    cartera and Techman3 like this.
  21. bexwhitt

    bexwhitt TS Guru Posts: 355   +73

    The case has more to do with other actions in the workplace, and very little to do with being unfriended, clickbait anyone?
  22. I liked your reply.

    Oops.. that's probably considered cyberbullying in Australia. Better not travel there or they'll arrest me.
  23. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,741   +3,757

    Don't worry about it. I consent. Besides, I am a cisgendered half-white heterosexual male. From a legal standpoint, that makes me the bad guy. Unless you're fully white. In which case, you are now a racist and a Nazi. (y)
  24. mrjgriffin

    mrjgriffin TS Addict Posts: 249   +110

    In other news, flushing your toilets is upsetting p.e.t.a
  25. lipe123

    lipe123 TS Evangelist Posts: 719   +236

    Title bait,
    the article itself says at the end: "Legal experts have said that while the case does not mean unfriending someone can automatically constitute bullying, it can be seen as part of a wider pattern of unreasonable behavior."

    Moral of the story is her co-worker was bullying her in the classic situation where you force someone to quit so you don't have to pay workers comp. The facebook thing was the straw that broke the camels back not the actual issue.

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