Mobbing in the workplace – how to distinguish criticism from harassment?

The statutory definition of mobbing shows that:

  • it consists in hostile and unethical behavior,
  • mobbing behavior is directed in a systematic manner,
  • mobbing is performed by one or more people mainly against one person,
  • the person in relation to whom mobbing is used becomes helpless and defenseless, remaining in this position through mobbing activities of a continuous nature.

Mobbing can be talked about only when situations are repeated many times, systematically, for a long time.

If it is unfair, incidental criticism of an employee cannot be qualified as mobbing. The employee’s well-being that the actions and behaviours taken towards him are mobbing are not a sufficient basis for concluding that he actually occurs.

It should be borne in mind that the employment relationship assumes work under the direction of the employer. Performing control activities may therefore require him to take such actions that may not necessarily be comfortable for the employee, e.g. drawing his attention. Such actions towards the employee may naturally be associated with stress for him, but this does not immediately mean harassment of the employee.

Therefore, it will not be mobbing to criticize a criticism made by the employer in an offensive way, aimed at discrediting the employee, if it is only one-off. What’s more, mobbing will not be criticism, which causes the employee a reduced sense of professional usefulness and a sense of humiliation. Even the use of profanity and an uncultured form of criticism of the employee by a person acting on behalf of the employer will not be considered mobbing if the boss’s statements are substantive, refer to the way the work is performed and fall within the right to assess the tasks performed.

It is worth emphasizing, however, that every employee deserves a friendly working environment, and activities that cause stress can not only significantly worsen their performance at work, but also lead to a deterioration in well-being and self-esteem. When we have doubts about the ethics of superiors’ actions towards our person, it is worth discussing this topic with a legal specialist.


Region Gdański NSZZ „Solidarność”

Projekt otrzymał dofinansowanie z Norwegii poprzez Fundusze Norweskie 2014-2021, w ramach programu „Dialog społeczny – godna praca”.

Strona korzysta
z plików Cookies.
Korzystając ze strony wyrażasz zgodę na ich używanie. Dowiedz się więcej