Harassment at work: 5 tips for responding

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Elise Fabing invite la personne harcelée à « susciter des écrits ». Aujourd'hui les écrits peuvent aussi bien correspondre à des mots sur des Post-it, qu'à des mails, des messages envoyés sur Slack, WhatsApp (ou tout autre canal de communication).

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Posted on Sep 21, 2021 at 6:00 PMUpdated on Sep 21, 2021, 6:22 PM

In recent years, employees' words have been freed up on social networks. Thanks to Instagram accounts like @balancetastartup, more and more employees who are victims of harassment are daring to testify. But, how to react concretely in the event of harassment? In her book, “A manual against harassment in the workplace” (Hachette), the lawyer Elise Fabing gives the keys so that employees know their rights and can defend themselves. “Because knowledge is power”, she writes.

. Listen to his feelings

To identify a situation of harassment, the lawyer advises to study his feelings. “Because it is a question of personal tolerance: what you might perceive as harassment will not necessarily be it by someone else”, she explains.

On the legal side, harassment can take the form of actions, comments or repeated behaviors that have an impact on the working conditions of the victim, his physical and / or mental health. Concretely, moral harassment can correspond to an overload of work, a humiliating attitude or even being put in the closet.

Sexual harassment – which affects women much more – can be defined by physical contact, annoying glances, insistent messages, behavior with a sexual or sexist connotation. It can also be pressure to “Obtain an act of a sexual nature”. The lawyer gives the example of a boss who during a business trip has reserved only one room for him and his employee.

. Build a solid case

In the event of harassment, the author advises to bring together “The good proofs” : those which reveal a dysfunctional working atmosphere and management. For this, Elise Fabing invites the harassed person to “To generate writings”. She recalls that today writings can correspond to words on Post-its as well as to emails, messages sent on Slack, WhatsApp (or any other communication channel).

In addition to the messages exchanged, the lawyer recommends keeping a maximum of documents relating to the life of the company (agenda, internal notes, organization chart, pay slips, etc.).

To strengthen your defense, you can ask your colleagues or ex-colleagues to testify in writing about the situation.

. To alert

When the file is sufficiently solid, we alert (always in writing). The author encourages harassed people to first communicate with HR managers. “It is their role to intervene in the event of a denunciation of acts of harassment. “ If possible, it is also recommended to inform your supervisor and an elected representative of the social and economic committee of the situation.

If nothing happens internally (or if it is not possible to talk about it), Elise Fabing advises to alert (as desired) her attending physician, occupational medicine, labor inspectorate (by letter recommended with acknowledgment of receipt) or the defender of rights.

. Find an agreement…

“Even if I go to the industrial tribunal – to benefit from negotiating leverage with the employer – 85% of cases end amicably”, reports the author. In other words, both parties accept the transaction offered to them. The employees for their part renounce any future action, sign a confidentiality and non-denigration clause and receive compensation in return.

… or refer to the industrial tribunal

To go to court, the victim of harassment first submits a request (which describes the various breaches of the employer and requests financial compensation for these breaches) to the registry of the industrial tribunal. In a second step, it is summoned to the conciliation and orientation office of the industrial tribunal. “If the opposing party does not wish to compromise […], we won't really find any solutions ”, remarks the lawyer.

Following this, we move on to the final stage: the hearing. Then, a few weeks or even a few months later, the deliberation falls. At the industrial tribunal, moral harassment is recognized in 48% of cases and the average sentence is equivalent to 7,100 Pounds if the victim remains in office. ” This is little. More restrictive sentences would be needed for companies to really review their practices ”, says Elise Fabing.

Remember that it is possible to go before the industrial tribunal alone or by being represented in particular by an employee of the company or by a union representative.


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