Workplace Harassment


The mobbing or psychological intimidation in the workplace or in other words, the ” mobbing ” is a very common problem that occurs within companies . It is a somewhat difficult situation to determine, understand and know. The number of victims of this type of bullying is prominently higher than the victims of other types of assault and harassment. Although there are legal regulations in the workplace, they continue to be difficult to enforce .

What is workplace harassment?

Workplace harassment is any type of conduct that includes repeated aggression or harassment which is exercised by the employer or by workers against others by any type of means.

  • Characteristics of workplace harassment
  • Source
  • Story
  • Types of workplace harassment
  • Parties involved
  • Symptoms
  • Causes
  • Consequences of workplace harassment
  • Prevention of workplace harassment
  • Workplace harassment by country
  • What are the most affected professions
  • Examples

Characteristics of workplace harassment

The main characteristics that can be observed in workplace harassment are the following:

  • Workplace harassment limits communication and social contact .
  • Look for a way to discredit a certain person in front of their peers.
  • It tries to discredit the professional and work capacity of an employee.
  • Commit to both physical and mental health .
  • It involves a series of negative and even hostile acts within the workplace on the part of a colleague or several towards another person.
  • It is a situation that derives directly from the labor field and it is difficult for the members of the company to accept that it happens in the workplace.
  • It produces a decrease in the self – esteem of the affected person, increasing their anxiety levels and decreasing emotional well-being .
  • His actions are systematic and very persistent .
  • The side effects that it can produce are devastating.
  • There is the power difference between the formal and the informal .


It is presumed that in the 80s, Heinz Lyman was the first to use the term mobbing to refer to a very violent form that occurred between adults within the workplace. The term comes from the English language and has the meaning of harassing, running over or attacking someone in a group.


The problems that arise in companies related to workplace harassment date back thousands of years and even in the current century, the negative behaviors that some people who work in them have not yet been resolved. At the beginning of the 80s the term mobbing was widely developed by Leymann , who in turn considered the precursor of the subject.

Types of workplace harassment

  • Horizontal mobbing : it is characterized by the fact that the harasser and the victim are in the same hierarchical rank . It occurs between co- workers , and the psychological repercussions suffered by the victim are serious . It is generally given to make a worker conform to the rules, to attack the weakest or for differences against the victim.
  • Vertical mobbing : the stalker is at a higher hierarchical level than the victim or at a lower level. There are two types of vertical mobbing: ascending and descending .
    • Ascending mobbing : occurs when an employee who has a higher hierarchical level is attacked by one or more of his subordinates .
    • Descending mobbing or bossing : it happens when an employee of a lower hierarchical level receives psychological harassment by several employees of higher positions in the company.
  • Workplace harassment according to the objective : this type of harassment depends on the function of the objectives that the person who harasses wants to achieve through harassment, it can be strategic , directive or management, perverse and disciplinary .
    • Strategic mobbing: it is characterized because harassment is part of the company’s strategy , and it is done with the objective that the person who is harassed resigns voluntarily to avoid the company paying the compensation that would correspond to them for unfair dismissal.
    • Management or management mobbing : it is carried out by the management of the organization to dispense with a worker who is not very submissive, to reach situations of labor slavery or to remove from the position a worker who does not meet the expectations of the boss.
    • Perverse mobbing : it does not have a work objective, but a manipulative and harassing personality of the stalker. It is very harmful because the causes that produce bullying are very difficult to eradicate.
    • Disciplinary mobbing : it is used to make a certain person understand that they must fit into the mold of a company otherwise they will receive a punishment . It instills fear and warns other colleagues of what could happen to them if they act like this.

Parties involved

  • Stalker : he is a person prone to telling lies or modifying the truth for his benefit, he projects a false image of himself and manages to deceive those around him very easily. It shows a false appearance of security although deep down they are people with low self-esteem . He is also a controlling and vindictive person , very critical of others and easily irritable. He does not have any kind of remorse and has a lack of empathy .
  • Victim : the problems for the victim are serious and important, they are a person who develops a lack of confidence and low self-esteem . His personality tends to change and his behavior is also affected. They have recurring nightmares , sensitivity disorders , feelings of guilt , depression , lack of motivation, and sadness .


The symptoms that people who suffer from workplace harassment present may be the following:

  • Deterioration in people’s confidence and abilities
  • Guilt and somatization of the conflict.
  • Insomnia , anxiety , stress , irritability , hypervigilance , fatigue , personality changes , relationship problems with the partner, depression .
  • Insecurity , indecision , conflicts with other people and relatives.
  • Sick leave that the harasser usually takes advantage of against the worker
  • Aggression and withdrawal of the victim with his friends and family.
  • Abandonment of friends and lack of support from family members.


The causes or reasons for workplace harassment within a company are different. The most common that we can highlight are jealousy , envy both about the material assets of the victim and their positive personal qualities such as their intelligence, their personal brilliance, their equanimity, etc. Another cause is when new and young workers join the work team that threaten professional advancement and even the permanence of the harasser in the organization or vice versa. It is also common for attacks to occur because the victim has some traitsDifferential from the rest of the group, such as the color of their skin , sexual preference or some physical characteristic that is taken advantage of by the harasser.

Consequences of workplace harassment

The consequences of workplace bullying are usually very similar to those caused by stress such as fatigue, nervousness and sleep problems. On many occasions, the devaluation suffered by the harassed person remains with them for years, even when they are no longer close to their harasser. It can have physical consequences such as cardiovascular, muscular, respiratory and gastrointestinal problems; Psychic consequences such as anxiety, depression and apathy, increased appetite, hypervigilance and emotional lability, in some serious cases, people may even have feelings of suicide and fear of going outside.

It also presents a series of social consequences that produce isolation , avoidance and withdrawal behaviors in the victim . Regarding the labor consequences, there is a progressive destruction in terms of the victim’s working life as the harasser presents a negative image of the person who is being harassed, thus affecting their performance and job performance .

Prevention of workplace harassment

According to experts, some ways to prevent workplace bullying are:

  • Give each worker the option to perform their work more adequately.
  • Increase the information within the company about its objectives.
  • Develop a more democratic style of business management .
  • Avoid functions that are unclear or confusing.
  • Educate workers regarding the term workplace harassment.
  • Investigate and know the possible scope of this type of harassment.
  • Formulate a series of clear and effective rules and guidelines to promote adequate positive social interaction.
  • Educate workers regarding what is acceptable and what is not and establish a series of values within the organization , as well as consequences and sanctions for workers who carry out workplace harassment.

Workplace harassment by country


The penal code of Spain typifies workplace harassment as a type of torture and damage against moral integrity and when it is proven it is punished with jail or fines . They take into account top-down, horizontal and vertical harassment.


There is still no specific law against workplace violence in the country, but part of it is recognized in the Law for the Comprehensive Protection of Women . The State has regulated workplace harassment and sexual violence.

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