Workplace bullying


Workplace bullying is defined as any abusive conduct (gesture, word, behavior, attitude, etc.) that undermines the dignity or the psychic or physical integrity of a person by repeating or systematizing it. jeopardize its use or degrading the working climate.

It is a violence with little touches, which is not noted, but is very destructive. Each attack taken separately is not really serious. It is the cumulative effect of the repetition and also the frequency of those microtraumas, that constitute the aggression.


Is workplace bullying a frequent phenomenon?

It affects 7 to 8% of French employees. But these statistics vary by business line and context. It is observed a little less in the production sectors. Because tasks are precisely defined, it is more difficult to attack someone who is doing their job properly.

Are moral harassment practices different in public and private enterprises?

There is proportionately more harassment in the public sector. This is largely due to the hierarchical organization, which is often heavier than in the private sector, and also to the greater stability of employment. In the public sector, harassment can last for a very long time, for years or even decades. The situation then becomes an established fact and the harassed person can no longer react. The most common outcome is sick leave or long-term leave.
In private companies, cases of moral harassment last for a shorter time, if only because they can lead to absenteeism and therefore a decrease in profitability. The situation is often resolved by the resignation of the harassed person or his dismissal.

What changed the law of January 2002 in France?

It’s easier for the victims to express themselves. Especially since the law remains rather vague on the type of actions that can constitute a harassment. It’s better because if it was too descriptive, it would exclude certain situations.
In addition, the leaders can be held responsible if they can’t demonstrate their implications on that matter, in the event of legal recourse, and therefore are more vigilant.
But the law also had a side effect. People now tend to talk about harassment for random problems. It should not be confused with other psychosocial risks inherited from other factors, like stress due to work rate, internal conflicts or poor working conditions.

What is the purpose of the harassment?

It’s usually either about getting rid of a person, by pushing someone to resign, or by forcing unacceptable conditions without complaints. And in general, the consequences on the victim are terrible. Suffering can sometimes cause a depressive state, and in some cases suicide.

What are the scenarios?

There are a few possible use cases. It can be a strategic harassment. The harasser then settles on someone like a protected worker, a trade unionist, a pregnant woman, a senior worker … to get rid of this person. The stalker may also be motivated by jealousy over another colleague. Or to silence a person who has reported irregularities in the company. In this case, a whole group can see its interest. Another type of harassment is picking on someone as a scapegoat. This is reminiscent of the processes implemented in schoolyards. At last, some people feel a need to conformity. and therefore may aim people who stand out and/or disturb.

Are harassment case only about relations between employees and their hierarchy, or also between colleagues?

All cases are possible. A victim harrassed by a superior is the more usual scenario. But harassment between colleagues is also very common. Cases of “backward” harassment by a subordinate to a line manager can also happen although not often.

Are there patterns among the victim’s profiles?

Anybody can be a victim. It mainly depends on the context. However, people with a higher self-esteem, being helped, or without childhood trauma tend to be more resistants.

What to do in case of psychological harassment at work?

As soon as you feel that something is wrong, you must find someone to talk to. If only to know if this is a normal situation or if it really is harassment. All alone, we do not usually have enough perspective. Victims can turn to associations, or specialists, but they are too few.
Otherwise, the occupational doctor can be a good person to talk to. Before going to court, the victim should begin to learn about his rights from the labor inspectorate, a trade union or a lawyer. And above all, it is very important not to be alone.

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