Raising a Personal Grievance: Four times you must act

Updated: May 20, 2019

Work relationships aren’t always perfect. Personality clashes, power imbalances, and inappropriate behaviour can impact on wellbeing and productivity. Sometimes issues can be resolved informally by talking to your employer, sometimes they can’t. For more serious issues you should consider raising a Personal Grievance. A Personal Grievance or ‘PG’ is a formal complaint made by an employee against their current or former employer. There are some situations you must not stand for, here are four examples:

1. You are being bullied

Is a colleague insulting, ridiculing or humiliating you? Are you scared to go to meetings with a manager who regularly yells at you? Or perhaps someone is spreading rumours about you or setting you up to fail with unachievable tasks? Bullying at work can look different from person to person but however it looks it is not okay. Worksafe NZ describes bullying as: ‘repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that can lead to physical or psychological harm.’

2. You are being sexually harassed

Is somebody at work making inappropriate comments about your body or appearance? Is a superior or colleague making unwanted advances or giving suggestive looks? Sexual harassment can happen to and by someone of any sex. It can be subtle or obvious and is unwelcome and offensive.

3. You are being racially harassed

Is somebody at work making jokes or snide comments about your race or nationality? Or perhaps a colleague likes to mock your accent or deliberately mispronounce your name? Racial harassment can take many forms – it may be verbal or written, visual or physical. It is hurtful and offensive and breeds hostility. The person racially harassing you doesn’t have to intend for it to be offensive, it is how their behaviour affects you that is important.

4. You are being discriminated against

Are your employment terms or workplace opportunities significantly different from colleagues with similar experience and skills? Perhaps you’re transgender and being unwillingly moved out of a frontline position. Or you’ve reached 65 and are being forced to retire even though you’re still capable of doing your job and want to continue working? In New Zealand employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees on the grounds of age, race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, disability, religion, marital status, employment status, political views, or involvement in union activities.