What to do in a situation of mobbing or harassment at work?

Harassment at work or mobbing
Published on: 21 June 2024

Table of contents

'Mobbing' is a concept used to define harassment at work. However, it is often misused. Moreover, nowadays, it is specified in the legislation, so that workers have certain rights if they are subjected to situations related to it. Thanks to our team of employment lawyers, we are going to explain its meaning and what you can do if you are a victim of this problem.

What exactly is mobbing? 

Mobbing is a situation of harassment in the workplace consisting of a wide range of psychological violence. These are generally aimed at disturbing, intimidating and harassing the victim in order to make him or her leave his or her job. Depending on the person perpetrating it, it may be referred to as

  • 'Vertical mobbing', if it is carried out by a hierarchical superior
  • 'Horizontal mobbing', if it is carried out by a colleague of the same rank. 
  • 'Downward mobbing', if it is carried out by a lower-ranking colleague

Due to the similarities between this type of bullying at work and bullying at school, some experts agree in calling this practice 'bullying at work'. After all, the only differences lie in the fact that, in one case, it is carried out by children in a school and, in the other, in a workplace and by employees or bosses. In either case, it can even lead to the appearance of certain illnesses and pathologies that are transferred to the family and personal environment.

What should the victim do in case of mobbing at work?

First of all, once the problem has been detected, seek help from a medical or psychological professional in order to reduce the adverse effects that the 'mobbing' behaviour against him or her may have had on his or her health. In addition, this will serve to establish a basis on which to base possible legal action. As we have already said, this problem is typified in current legislation.

The next step to be taken in the event of harassment at work is to inform the legal representatives of the workers of the events that have occurred. If there are none, this should be done to the company's Health and Safety Committee so that a detailed investigation of the incident can be carried out. As a result, appropriate disciplinary action should be taken to correct the infringements.

It is vitally important, before filing a workplace harassment claim, to be in possession of all evidence and information that, in terms of the law, is valid. This can be, for example, witness statements, photographs, videos, written documents, e-mails or any other element that can prove the authenticity of the facts. It is also a prerequisite that you make it clear in writing to your employer what has happened before you take legal action.

The ways to report mobbing at work

Victims of mobbing can report the situation externally to their company in two ways. The first is administrative, which must be made to the Labour Inspectorate. The second is judicial, in which case it would be necessary to determine which actions would be appropriate depending on the damages caused to the worker.

In the event that recourse is taken to the courts, there are essentially two alternatives available, namely:

  • The social jurisdiction. The first thing to do is to apply to the judge for protection of fundamental rights. The judge will force the harasser to stop the harassment by adopting the measures he or she deems appropriate. The victim can then choose to request the termination of the employment relationship. If the mobbing is proven, the company must compensate the victim in the same way as in the case of unfair dismissal and, in addition, the victim will be entitled to unemployment benefits. At the same time, you can claim damages from the company or the individual concerned.
  • Criminal jurisdiction. It must be assumed that mobbing can be a criminal offence if some of the aggressions, threats and coercion exceed certain thresholds of seriousness. In this case, the perpetrator will be held liable and may even face prison sentences if found guilty. This can also be pursued against the company if it is considered that it has failed to take appropriate and sufficient measures to put an end to the harassment.

In short, these are the different possibilities available to you if you are a victim of 'mobbing'. At G. Elias y Muñoz Abogados we have a team of experts ready to help you with whatever you need and, after studying your case, to advise you on which alternative is best for you.

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