What is mobbing and how to deal with it?

The regulation contained in the Labour Law Code that orders an employer to counteract mobbing does not provide a precise definition of this phenomenon.

The legislator indicated the features that the behaviour must have in order to be recognised as mobbing: “acts or behaviour in relation to an employee or directed against an employee, consisting of persistent and long-term harassment or intimidation of an employee, resulting in a decreased evaluation of his professional abilities, which is aimed at or results in the humiliation or ridicule of the employee, or the isolation or elimination of the employee from the team of co-workers.” This definition does not give a clear answer as to which behaviours are actually mobbing and which are not. It should be noted that the abovementioned actions do not have to be committed by the employer itself; they can be committed by other employees and it is the employer’s task to counteract and prevent them.

As one of the courts of appeal pointed out: “Mobbing can also be expressed in continuous interruption when one speaks, reacting by shouting, continuous criticism and reprimanding, humiliation, using threats, avoiding conversations, not allowing the employee to speak, ridicule, limiting the ability to express one’s own opinion, informally prohibiting others talk to the harassed employee, preventing communication with others, as well as assigning work that is below one’s qualifications and derogatory, removing the employee from responsible and complex tasks, overloading with work or not giving any tasks or taking them away, etc.

However, it must be stressed that the normal well-mannered enforcement of orders does not constitute mobbing, as subordination is inherent in the nature of the employment relationship. It should be added here that even unfair but incidental criticism of an employee cannot be qualified as mobbing”. The courts themselves admit that the situation for those being mobbed is much more difficult than for their opponents. Often, proceedings end unfavourably for employees due to the lack of professional representation and the failure to prove the features of mobbing.

In order to prevent this, the Supreme Court has put forward the position that, due to the specific nature of proceedings in mobbing cases, it may be permissible to refer to evidence obtained illegally, e.g. recordings of conversations on a tape recorder without the consent of the persons being recorded. This is because in some cases it is difficult, if not impossible, to obtain direct, legal evidence. In situations where people who suffered health disorder caused by bullying have won their cases, the compensation awarded has averaged between PLN 20,000 and PLN 50,000.

A practice that is beneficial for both the employer and the employee in the fight against mobbing is the “Anti-Harassment Policy”, which is a list of internal procedures such as a complaint procedure or a prevention procedure. They aim to raise awareness of employees’ rights and allow employers themselves to respond effectively to mobbing.

We assist employees in asserting their rights, as well as employers in defending themselves against unsubstantiated allegations of workplace mobbing. Above all, however, we focus on the prevention of mobbing incidents.

If you are an employee and you are wondering whether the incidents in the workplace that are worrying you have the characteristics of mobbing – contact us and we will dispel your doubts and instruct you as to your rights and available options for action.

Are you an employer wondering how to respond to incidents reported to you in the workplace or are you struggling with unsubstantiated allegations of mobbing in your company? Or maybe you have not yet implemented an anti-mobbing procedure? Contact us and we will share our experience with you and advise you on how to implement effective solutions to protect you and your employees.


Katarzyna Hiller, Attorney-at-law 

Jarosław Basiura,  Legal assistant