What is Mobbing?

“The term mobbing describes a conflict at the workplace in which the balance of power has shifted against one of the parties. This party to the conflict is systematically subjected to frequent hostile attacks over a long period of time that could result in significant harm to that person and the company.” (see Kolodej, Psychoterror am Arbeitsplatz und seine Bewältigung, 2005, p.24).

Mobbing can be prosecuted under criminal, civil, service and labor-laws

Mobbing by employers means that they are transgressing their duty of care pursuant § 1157 par 1 ABGB and § 18 AngG. This duty of care also stipulates that employers must protect you from bullying by colleagues, and to prohibit it. Bullying co-workers undermine employers’ fiduciary duty towards their employees by thwarting their interests. If it gets to the point where it actually violates your “absolute right” (health, property, honor), for example if mobbing makes you ill, your co-workers are definitely breaking the law.

Mobbing Actions (see Kolodej, Mobbing, p.43)

  • Preventing someone from expressing themselves verbally (e.g. limiting their communication possibilities, continuously interrupting, constant criticism, telephone terror, threats, refusing contact)
  • Attacks on social relationships (e.g. not speaking to the targets, secluding them, treating them as if they were not there)
  • Attacks on social standing (e.g. saying bad things about the targets, spreading rumors, mocking, taunting)
  • Attacks on the quality of professional and living situation (e.g. not assigning work tasks, assigning pointless tasks or assigning tasks far above/below the target’s abilities)
  • Attacks on health (e.g. assigning tasks detrimental to health, acts of physical abuse or violence, causing material damage)

Mobbing causes great distress to the targets and also significantly damages the organization as a whole in regard to teamwork and working climate.

What to do:
• Address the incidents, silence is silver, speech is gold! Voice your discomfort using specific situations as examples.
• Keep a  mobbing diary, write every incident down with the date.
• Using a mobbing checklist, check if the incidents already classify as “mobbing.”

Further Information and Links

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