What is mobbing (bullying)?

Psychological harassment or bullying is the abuse of power over an employee with the intent to humiliate (WHO, 2004). It is characterized by various hostile statements and behaviors that are frequently repeated (at least once a week) over an extended period (at least six months). It involves one or more people who intend to unnerve, run down, isolate, marginalize or cut out one or more people at the workplace. (Art. 63 para. 1 of the University of Geneva Staff Regulations).

The following situations involve typical psychological harassment behavior: unjust criticism and smears, ridicule and humiliation, assignment of tasks far below one's skill level, assignment of inappropriately demanding tasks, refusal to assign any task, shunning leading to isolation, attacks on privacy, etc. (Canton of Vaud employment department)

"Although it is separate from it, psychological harassment is almost always based on an unresolved conflict. This conflict may stem from differing points of view, rivalries, a struggle for influence, power seeking, etc. This is why it is necessary to react quickly to a conflict. The more time passes, the worse the environment will get, and the harder it will be to reestablish trust. If someone feels bullied or sexually harassed, or that they are living with in a situation of unresolved conflict, it is essential to keep precise records of all incidents and bullying: the initiator, date, time, place, facts, what was said, possible witnesses." (Portal for next-generation academics)

Employers are required to protect their employees' physical and psychological well-being. They must therefore take adequate, necessary measures to stop all harassment and discrimination (Art. 130 LPers). The Code of Obligations (Art. 328 para. 1) and Federal Labor Act (Art. 6, para. 1, and Art. 33) require the employer to take appropriate measures to protect employees' physical and psychological health. The Swiss Civil Code (Art. 28 et seq.) and the Code of Obligations (Art. 49) forbid behaviors that constitute personal attacks. The Federal Act on Equality between Men and Women (Art. 4) forbids sexual harassment at the workplace, as being a form of sexual discrimination. The Penal Code (Art. 193 and 198) punishes anyone who has been found guilty of sexual harassment.