We all deserve to go to school, do our jobs or take part in public life without being bullied. Bullying can have a serious effect on your health. When bullying happens at work it can also affect your ability to do your job. In some cases, bullying can be a form of discrimination and the Commission may be able to help.
What is bullying?
Bullying is when someone repeatedly uses words or actions against someone else to cause them distress. It can include:
- verbal abuse – spoken insults or making mean comments about someone
- physical abuse – being physically harmed or threatened
- written abuse – notes, emails or posts on social media.
Bullying is not the same as conflict between people (like having a fight or argument) or disliking someone.
How does the law protect me?
Sometimes bullying is also a form of discrimination. When that is the case, the Commission may be able to help.
Bullying can be discrimination if it is happening in an area of public life, such as work or school, and if it is directed at someone because of a personal characteristic protected by the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, such as:
- gender identity
- sex characteristics
- sexual orientation
In this case, the behaviour doesn’t need to be repeated. Even if it only happens once, the Commission may be able to help.
See our discrimination page for a full list of the characteristics and areas of public life that are protected by the Equal Opportunity Act.
What can I do if I’m discriminated against?
You can make a complaint
Get help from us.
You can make a complaint to us if you think you have experienced:
If you wish, someone else can make a complaint for you. Find out how we help people resolve complaints.
We can also give you information about your rights.
It is also against the law to victimise a person, which means treat them badly or unfairly, because they have made a complaint about discrimination, sexual harassment or vilification, or have helped someone else to make a complaint.
Where else can I get help about bullying?
If you are being bullied, and it isn’t a form of discrimination, there are other organisations that can help. See our referrals page for a list.
Are there any exceptions to the law?
There are some exceptions in the Equal Opportunity Act that mean it’s not against the law to discriminate in particular circumstances. For example, discrimination is not against the law if there is a real risk to someone’s health, safety or property.
Find out more about exceptions.