Workplace bullying and harassment – 2GB host Ray Hadley accused of workplace bullying over a 16-year period

Radio broadcaster and 2GB host Ray Hadley accused of workplace bullying and harassment over a 16-year period by former producer, Chris Bowen.

A courtroom battle between 2GB host, Ray Hadley, and former 2GB producer, Chris Bowen, has commenced over workplace bullying claims. Bowen started pursuing legal action in 2019, suing Hadley for negligence and breaching his duty of care. He also revealed that the bullying and harassment he endured contributed to psychiatric issues he has experienced. Consequently, Bowen is seeking financial damages.

Bowen has revealed that Hadley bullied and harassed him on “no less than 1,000 occasions”, including the use of “vile, homophobic slurs”. Hadley also used derogatory terms to call Bowen a “poor simpleton” and “spastic”. Bowen also alleges that Hadley made racial slurs against his then girlfriend, calling her a “curry muncher”.

Hadley has also been accused of trying to ensure a potential witness was dropped from the case. When Luke Bona, an Indigenous-Australian former colleague of Hadley, was revealed as a potential witness in the case, Hadley texted him the next day. Bona claims Hadley called Bowen “crazy”, and his executive producer, John Redman, offered his son a job at 2GB.

Mr Bowen’s lawyer said they would be attempting to withhold the identities of potential witnesses in the case from Hadley for as long as possible. Hadley’s lawyers stated in court that there is no evidence for the allegations that Hadley attempted to intimidate potential witnesses.

Hadley is attempting to have the matter dismissed and the statement of claims against him set aside. The matter will be heard in court in May 2021.

The law

What is bullying and harassment under the law?

The Fair Work Act 2009 (“Fair Work Act”) aims to prevent discrimination against employees. Section 789FD of the Act states that a person is bullied at work if:

  • A person or group of people repeatedly act unreasonably towards them or a group of workers, and
  • The behaviour creates a risk to health and safety.

“Unreasonable” behaviour can include humiliation, victimisation and threats. However, it is important to note that reasonable management action that is carried out in a reasonable way is not considered as bullying. These actions can include:

  • Making decisions about an employee’s poor performance
  • Providing legitimate feedback and advice
  • Taking disciplinary action
  • Instructing on how work should be carried out

Additionally, the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) (“WHS Act”) is designed to ensure the health, safety and welfare of people while they are working. Section 29(b) of the WHS Act provides that a person at a workplace should take reasonable care that his or her acts or omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons. It is therefore important to be aware of how your actions in a workplace can negatively affect your colleagues.

What is discrimination?

Many people may refer to bullying as discrimination. However, discrimination is different to bullying because there needs to be an ‘adverse action’. An adverse action includes actions such as terminating or demoting someone based on a person’s attributes. Under the Fair Work Act, these protected attributes can include race, sex, age, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, and pregnancy. In comparison, filing a workplace bullying claim does not need to include behaviour regarding a person’s characteristics.


Workplace bullying and harassment creates a toxic work culture and can lead to employees (including bystanders) experiencing physical and psychological health problems. It can also affect job and company performance, as bullied employees can have trouble focusing on their work.

If you reasonably believe you have been bullied at work, you can apply to the Fair Work Commission (FWC). The FWC has powers to make orders to stop bullying if you are still currently employed and wish to remain at your workplace.

If you are an employer, you should be aware of your obligations under the WHS Act and the Fair Work Act. It is crucial to create a collaborative culture, implement confidential reporting systems and consistent enforcement policies to reduce bullying and harassment in the workplace.

The above information is intended as general information and is not intended to be relied on as legal advice.

If you are considering filing a claim against an employer, or if you have been accused of workplace bullying or harassment yourself, call one of our experienced lawyers on (02) 9920 1787 to find out how we can assist you. Pannu Lawyers are highly experienced in resolving civil disputes between employers and employees. Pannu Lawyers is located conveniently close to Blacktown CBD and appear in Fair Work Commission, Federal Circuit Court and Federal Court of Australia.

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