In the pages of our blog, we very often cover topics related to various aspects of discrimination and mobbing, which only proves how important these issues have become in the world today, and how strongly the need for awareness of the dangers and ways to protect against them is increasing. Today’s post will focus on what is at stake for an employee who has engaged in mobbing behavior against a co-worker.
What is mobbing?
The Polish legislator defined mobbing in Article 943 §2 of the Labour Code, which means actions or behaviors:
- concerning an employee or directed against an employee,
- consisting of persistent and prolonged harassment or intimidation of an employee,
- causing the employee to have a lowered assessment of his or her professional suitability,
- causing or intended to humiliate or ridicule the employee, isolate him or eliminate him from the team of co-workers.
Thus, this definition has a very broad scope, which makes it possible to consider individual behavior of either the employee or the employer in terms of meeting the characteristics of mobbing.
Who can be responsible for the phenomenon of mobbing in the workplace?
As a rule, it is the employer who is responsible for the occurrence of mobbing in the workplace, since according to Article 943 §1 of the Labour Code he is obliged to prevent mobbing. However, the responsibility of the employee for causing harm to the employer is not excluded, and the employer will have to pay compensation or damages to the harassed employee in accordance with §3 or §4 of the aforementioned provision.
According to Article 114 of the Labour Code, an employee who, as a result of the non-performance or improper performance of his or her duties through his or her own fault, causes harm to the employer, is materially liable according to the rules set forth in the Labour Code.
The above means that the employer – under certain circumstances – may claim from the mobbing employee the amount paid to the employee who experienced mobbing. A condition for such a claim, however, is that the employer must demonstrate that it exercised due diligence in implementing anti-bullying rules in the workplace, which can often prove to be a difficult task.
In addition, the employee mobber is liable only for the normal consequences of his act or omission, and it is the employer – as the entity responsible for preventing mobbing – who must prove the circumstances justifying the employee’s liability and the amount of the resulting damage.
Other types of liability
It is not excluded that an employee mobber will be liable under criminal or disciplinary law for mobbing a co-worker. According to the Penal Code, maliciously carrying out labour and social security actions or persistently violating the rights of an employee is subject to criminal liability.
An employee may also be subject to workplace disciplinary liability under the Labour Code. Potential consequences against an employee mobber as a result of his use of mobbing behavior include:
- penalty of admonition,
- penalty of reprimand,
- the possibility of termination of the employee mobber’s employment contract.
Mobbing is not only a violation of labour law, but also an action that can seriously damage the mental health of the person being mobbed. Therefore, it is worth promoting a work culture based on respect, cooperation and equality. To prevent and eliminate mobbing from the workplace, employers should take appropriate measures, such as educating employees about mobbing, creating conflict resolution procedures, and proactively responding to signals of mobbing incidents. Employees, in turn, should be aware of their rights and obligations and report any incidents of mobbing to their superiors or to health and safety services.
Mateusz Turowski, Trainee attorney-at-law (PL)