Moral harassment in the workplace to be fined up to EUR 10,000

Workplace harassment (mobbing) will be punishable by a fine of up to RON 50,000 (EUR 10,300), according to a new bill voted in by the Romanian Parliament. This is an unprecedented move, according to politician Erika Benkő, a member of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (known by its Hungarian acronym RMDSZ) and the Chamber of Deputies of Romania.

Mobbing entails continuous and repeated abusive behavior (verbal, physical or emotional) toward a co-worker. Usually, it isn’t initially recognized by the receiver, as the abuse comes in small amounts here and there. Instead, it works cumulatively, eventually becoming very destructive to the mental and physical health of the employee as well as to his/her working life.

“Everyone deserves dignity in the workplace. Where people work, respect is especially important, as livelihood is one of the most important factors in people’s lives,” Benkő wrote on her Facebook page after the bill passed. The proposed bill complemented already existing ordnances accepted in 2000 and 2002.

Under the new law, moral harassment at work, deserving disciplinary or criminal sanctions, involves the treatment of someone in the workplace by their supervisor or employer in a way that violates their rights or dignity, adversely affects their physical or mental health, or makes their professional future impossible in any of the following ways: (a) hostile or undesirable conduct; (b) verbal remarks; (c) actions, gestures.

“Every employee has the right to a job free from moral harassment. No employee shall be sanctioned, dismissed or discriminated against, either directly or indirectly, including by salary, vocational training, promotion or extension of employment, on the grounds that he or she has been subjected to moral harassment at work or because he or she has rejected harassment at work,” the bill’s text reads.

Employers have the duty to take steps to prevent workplace harassment. Failure to do so may result in a fine of RON 30,000 to RON 50,000. It is also prohibited to introduce rules in the workplace that may become fertile ground for moral harassment. Violation of this rule is punishable by a fine of between RON 50,000 and RON 200,000 (EUR 10,000-40,000).

Title image: Workplace harassment. Image source: Pixabay

Author: István Fekete