Mobbing: Recognize It, Prevent It, And Protect Yourself
Mobbing or workplace harassment is when a worker or several workers exercise unjustified and systematic psychological violence, prolonged over time, on another person within the work context. It is a problem that can arise in any organization and at any time, regardless of the type of employment relationship between the affected parties, and that causes serious psychological issues for the victims.
How do I know if I am being mobbed?
In legal terms, workplace harassment has been defined as “any situation or conduct that, due to its repetition over time, due to its degrading nature of working conditions and due to the hostility or intimidation of the general work environment, has as its purpose or as a result in attacking or endangering the integrity of the worker. Workplace harassment can be punished with a prison sentence of six months to two years.
But how can we know if a situation is a case of mobbing and suffering from workplace harassment by bosses or colleagues? Here are some of the most common manifestations of this form of workplace harassment:
Reorganization of work. The victim is expected to perform her work poorly due to overload or loss of responsibilities or tasks; You may even turn to boring, repetitive activities that lack stimulation.
Authority. There is an excess of authority continuously by superiors in which the human factor of the subordinate is not taken into account.
Little communication. It is common in mobbing cases that the worker does not receive all the information that he should have for the proper performance of his work. This increases the chances of making mistakes and the feeling of insecurity.
Violent attitudes. As we know, violence goes far beyond the physical plane, the constant criticism of a person, ignoring her, humiliating her, yelling, adopting aggressive tones are forms of psychological violence.
Social isolation. Isolation can be evident when it is physical (by placing your workstation in a separate place from the rest of the team and isolated). Still, it is also isolation to put obstacles in the way of that person socializing and communicating naturally.
Personal disrepute. This point is comprehensive and diverse. It includes any action to discredit a person through lies, slander, the invention of rumors, etc. Humiliation is every day when ridiculed, imitated, or mocked. Still, it also constitutes a form of discredit when the person is forced to do humiliating jobs, their decisions are systematically questioned, or their activities are controlled with a negative bias causing moral harassment.
Professional disrepute. It occurs when the harasser assigns the harassed person tasks that are below her abilities to discredit her at work or, on the contrary, imposes duties above her competencies.
Health threat. When the assigned tasks can put the worker’s physical health at risk, the pressure exerted on him can cause depression or anxiety.
types of mobbing
It is essential to remember that workplace harassment is not only a matter of power exercised from the top down. It is a complex situation that can occur in multiple directions: horizontal mobbing when it occurs between colleagues with the same professional category (sometimes it can happen in a group); Ascending mobbing, when part of a subordinate to a superior (occurs when there is a promotion that the harasser considers unfair, or when a new superior is not accepted), or descending mobbing, exerted by the superior towards a subordinate.
In addition, depending on how it develops, we find:
Strategic bullying. It is a descending mobbing in which the harasser, taking advantage of his position of superiority, creates a suitable climate for a specific worker to resign from his job.
Address mobbing. Again, we are talking about a top-down mobbing model in which company management uses threats of dismissal to incite fear and increase productivity.
Perverse mobbing. Part of depraved personalities and has no reason or objective beyond the well-being of the harasser exercising the abuse of power.
Discriminatory bullying. It is based on discrimination based on age, sex, race, physical appearance, illness, religion, ideology…
Disciplinary bullying. It is based on threats to create an environment of fear in which the harassed person adopts a submissive attitude.
The first thing to do is prevent it: organizations must monitor and root out this type of attitude that, in addition to the damage it can cause to those who suffer it, is a severe threat to the work environment.
Some basic guidelines to prevent mobbing and maintain healthy work environments:
- Offer each worker the possibility of choosing how to carry out their work.
- Avoid unclear specifications of functions and tasks.
- Reduce the volume of monotonous and repetitive work.
- Increase target information.
- Develop a democratic leadership style.
Apart from this, the meaning of workplace harassment must be disseminated by the company so that the different members of the organization can recognize it. Investigate the scope and nature of the workplace bullying problem and formulate clear guidelines to encourage positive social interactions.
Protect yourself from bullying
The first step that the person who is the victim of mobbing or workplace harassment must take is to collect evidence that can prove said situation (emails, documents, recordings…) to facilitate the proper development of the procedures that are put in place below:
Report the situation to the Labor Inspectorate so that an inspector can verify the harassment impartially and objectively. The minutes made by the said body are irrefutable evidence in case of trial since workplace harassment is contemplated in the penal code.
Go to the procedure of protecting fundamental rights and public liberties regulated in the Regulatory Law of the Social Jurisdiction. It is processed more quickly than a normal judicial process and is limited to the violation of rights.
Extinguish labor compensation (following the provisions of article 50 of the Workers’ Statute). In this case, you would receive compensation equivalent to that for unfair dismissal.
Start an ordinary judicial procedure for damages. It will be carried out when the workplace harassment has ceased with the aim of claiming compensation for the injuries suffered.