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Harassment at work: what is it and how to report it?

ODICE LAWYERS

Today, workers have rights to protect them if they are subjected to situations of Harassment at Work or Mobbing. However, it is a reality that is difficult to identify because it does not always have the same characteristics.

In this article, our team of employment lawyers in MalagaThe report will explain what it means and what you can do if you are a victim of harassment at work. 

What is Mobbing?

We understand by mobbing, a situation of harassment at work consisting of the implementation of actions to unjustified psychological violence. It is often expressed through actions such as insults, isolation, belittling, humiliation, abusive schedules, spreading rumours, physical abuse and, in some cases, sexual aggression.

Because of its similarities to bullying (bullying), some experts also call it "bullying labour", The only difference is that while one is carried out by children in a school, the other takes place in a workplace and is exercised by employees or bosses.

The aim of this process is to depress and emotionally consume the victim, sometimes to get them to resign from their job. However, it is important to know the difference between the harassment at work and a labour dispute, not all conflicts between colleagues or between a colleague and his or her boss should be classified as harassment at work.

Below, we explain what circumstances must be present to qualify as mobbing or harassment at work:

  • Attacking the dignity of the individual and his or her fundamental rights.
  • Constant actions and aggressions, i.e. not an isolated or sporadic event.

What are the consequences of workplace bullying?

When the mobbing or harassment at work is prolonged over time, it can lead to multiple psychological problems and even physical consequences for the victim, both in the short and long term. Among them, we can find:

  • Psychological consequences: Frequent crying, apathy, hypervigilance and suspiciousness, nervousness, loss of attention and memory, depression, personality changes, post-traumatic stress disorders, feelings of helplessness, etc.
  • Physical consequences: Fatigue, insomnia, migraine, gastrointestinal problems, lumbar and cervical pain, respiratory problems, hypertension, arrhythmias...

Types of Mobbing

Among the different types of mobbing In the case of bullying or harassment at work, we find one related to the hierarchical position of the persons involved and another, which depends on the objective of the harassment exercised.

Depending on the hierarchical position, there are three subcategories:

Vertical Upward Mobbing: the bully is at a lower level than the victim. For example, a boss who is the victim of harassment by several workers.

Mobbing Vertical Downward o "bossing": the harasser is at a higher level than the victim. For example, an employee who is the victim of harassment by his or her boss or superiors.

Horizontal Mobbing: the victim and the harasser are in the same hierarchical rank. For example, two co-workers.

Depending on the objective, there are four subcategories:

Strategic Mobbing: is aimed at getting the victim to leave his or her job voluntarily. In most cases, in order to prevent the company from paying compensation to the victim for unfair dismissal.

Management Mobbing: The aim is to improve the performance of the workers through situations of labour slavery by the management of the company.

Disciplinary mobbing: The aim is to generate fear in the victim and to subject the victim to the harasser's will by imposing a punishment if the victim does not do what is asked of him or her. The mobbing The disciplinary system fosters a working climate in which no one dares to oppose superiors.

Perverse mobbing: is a toxic and manipulative bully who seeks to grow in the organisation by undermining or harassing colleagues. This type of mobbing cannot be solved unless the harasser is re-educated or does not remain in the company.

Examples of Harassment at Work

Some examples and frequent cases are:

  • Constant belittling of the victim's work: rumours and false testimonies in order to hinder her progress or seeking humiliation.
  • Co-workers or bosses do not address the victim, ignore them or respond with shouting.
  • Discrimination based on gender, age, sexual orientation, illness or disability.
  • Written, gestural or verbal threats.
  • Impossible workload or, on the contrary, withdrawing competences and responsibilities in order to accuse the victim of not doing them afterwards.
  • Assign tasks that are not within your competence or do not assign anything at all to seek boredom.

How does workplace bullying or harassment affect mobbing to the company?

Voluntary resignations, reduced productivity or loss of quality of work are some of the consequences of mobbing. It is also important to know that these situations also affect the working environment and can have a direct impact on the whole organisation (stress, more voluntary redundancies or a toxic and uncomfortable atmosphere).

We can therefore conclude that the costs of workplace bullying can be incredibly significant for companies. It is therefore essential to take the necessary measures to detect it in time.

How to report harassment at work?

Nowadays, we have different medical profiles such as psychologists, psychiatrists and mental health specialists, which significantly help to reduce and avoid the consequences of mobbing. 

If you suffer mobbing, you can report it and take the necessary legal action. To do this, it is vital to have evidence (emails, photographs, videos...) and relevant information about the situations experienced, and even witness statements.

On the other hand, you must also report the incident to your company's management in writing, as one of their obligations is to prevent this type of behaviour; similarly, you must report it to the workers' representative in your company (if this figure does not exist in your workplace, you can go directly to the Health and Safety Committee).

Workplace Harassment Compensation

Workplace bullying not only creates a toxic work environment, but can also cause psychological, physical and moral damage. Therefore, in addition to the avenues discussed in the previous section, there is the possibility of taking legal action against the harasser(s).

Currently, the law provides for the compensation for harassment at work. In this context, the victim has the right to claim the termination of the contract with compensation for unfair dismissal, in addition to a compensation for non-material damage.

In order to calculate the amount to be received, the circumstances of the case, the nature of the injury and the period of time during which the harassment at work occurred must be taken into account.

Mobbing and Harassment Lawyers

In this article, we have explained what mobbing is through the most common situations, but each victim's circumstances are unique. 

Therefore, if you are unfortunately experiencing a situation similar to those described above, we strongly recommend that you contact professionals. At Ódice Abogados, we have workplace harassment lawyers that will help you stop any kind of harassment at work. 

In our law firm in Malaga, we advise the victims of harassment at work, and we accompany them throughout the extrajudicial and judicial process. Likewise, we advise companies with the objective of detecting mobbing in their organisation and avoid greater evils.

If you would like any further information, please do not hesitate to contact us, our lawyers in Malaga will be pleased to help you.

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