What Is Mobbing?

Where You Need a Lawyer:

(This may not be the same place you live)

At No Cost! 

 What Is Mobbing?

Mobbing occurs when a group of individuals collaborate to intimidate, bully, harass, or pester one other individual. In a workplace, mobbing is when a group of employees participate in hostile behaviors towards another employee that makes it difficult for that employee to perform their job tasks and feel secure.

In many situations, mobbing is used as an attempt to push a targeted employee out of the workplace. This may include an above-average employee who makes others feel threatened or an unproductive employee who cannot easily be terminated.

The individual who is targeted often feels ganged up on. Usually, there is a leader of the mobbing group, who may be a manager, co-worker, or subordinate. This leader will rally the others to engage in mob-like behavior toward the victim.

Individuals who engage in mobbing as a form of workplace harassment may include:

  • Subordinates;
  • Superiors;
  • Colleagues.

The conduct may be either covert and indirect or open and direct.

What Are the Different Types of Mobbing?

All acts of mobbing have certain things in common, including malicious intent as well as engaging in hostile behavior that creates a sense of workplace hostility and harassment.

Examples of mobbing in the workplace include:

  • Spreading a rumor about a particular employee;
  • Orchestrating the isolation of the employee in the office;
  • Making it difficult for the employee to perform job-related tasks;
  • Belittling, bullying, and humiliating the employee;
  • Trying to make the employee resign from their position.

Who Are the Targets?

The targets of mobbing often include the employees who are the most competent, ethical, and creative. This is because other employees may find the targeted employee threatening to their own job positions in the workplace.

Supervisors are also commonly a target for mobbing. In these types of cases, subordinates will collaborate with one another in order to undermine their supervisor.

Older workers, younger workers, and women are more likely to be targeted. In addition, rates of mobbing are high in certain fields, including:

  • Social service;
  • Health;
  • Education.

What Are Some of the Effects of Mobbing?

Mobbing can have a drastic effect on the work performance and morale of victims. The impact of mobbing on a worker may be intensified if management does not take any action to address the incidents and allows the behavior to continue and increase.

Examples of effects that mobbing may have on a victim include:

  • Reduced enthusiasm for work;
  • Inability to focus on their daily tasks;
  • An intense sense of isolation from colleagues and a distrust of their intentions;
  • Increased anxiety and stress;
  • Being denied promotions and other opportunities;
  • Performing tasks for the bullying parties;
  • Resigning from their position, in many cases, without informing their employer of the true reason.

Mobbing can cause serious disruptions in the workplace. It can also affect businesses of any size, causing them significant losses in profit over time.

Is Mobbing a Crime?

Although mobbing itself is not found in a state criminal code, behaviors related to mobbing may be considered crimes. For example, if the employee is being harassed, it may lead to criminal charges.

Mobbing may involve other types of offenses that can be actionable, for example, discrimination and sexual harassment. Another type of claim a plaintiff may be able to file is a hostile work environment claim based on the mobbing behaviors.

Are There Any Defenses for Mobbing?

It is important to be aware that there may be some mobbing defenses. Examples of defenses that may be used against claims of participation in mobbing behavior may include:

  • The alleged victim is making a false accusation against the defendant;
  • Mistaken identity;
  • Lack of evidence;
  • The defendant was not involved with the accused and was wrongly associated with those individuals;
  • There were no damages in the case;
  • The plaintiff must be able to show damages in order to have a successful claim.

One common defense strategy that is used is arguing that there is not sufficient evidence present in the case. If the plaintiff is not able to prove that there was a measurable level of loss or other harm that was suffered, it is possible that the defendant may not be held liable in a criminal court or in a civil court.

What Is a Hostile Work Environment?

A hostile work environment is created when individuals in the workplace engage in acts of harassment that make it impossible for an employee to perform their job duties. In most cases, the unwelcome conduct or comments are based on the victim’s:

  • Race;
  • Skin color;
  • Religion or lack of religious belief system;
  • Sex or gender, whether at present or the one assigned at birth;
  • National origin;
  • Age, when aged 40 or older;
  • Disability, including pregnancy;
  • Genetic information; or
  • Any other legally protected characteristic that may unreasonably interfere with an employee’s work performance.

There are many parties that can create hostile work environments, including:

  • A co-worker;
  • A supervisor or manager;
  • Repeat clients;
  • Vendors;
  • Visitors;
  • Contractors; or
  • Other employment staff members who have significant contact with an employee.

It is important to be aware that not every annoyance, petty slight, or isolated incident will necessarily be enough to rise to the level of a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment may be created from an environment of intimidation and fear or sexual remarks.

What will constitute a hostile work environment will vary by workplace. In general, if an individual is so affected by the situation or behaviors that they cannot work, it will be considered a hostile work environment. This is especially true if the party engaging in the conduct did so simply to make the employee uncomfortable or to intimidate them.

Are There Any Legal Remedies for Workplace Bullying?

One of the main issues related to workplace bullying is that, in many cases, it goes unreported for long periods of time. Usually, this is because employees do not want to risk losing their jobs by reporting bullying incidents.

It is important, however, for a worker to report any occurrences of bullying to their HR department if it causes issues in their workplace. Examples of legal remedies that may be awarded or ordered in workplace bullying cases may include, but may not be limited to:

  • The employer reprimanding or disciplining the bully for their actions;
  • Recovering damages for the victim’s emotional distress through a civil lawsuit;
  • A court order which requires the employer to institute new company policies; or
  • If the bullying caused lost wages or loss of a job, the victim might be able to get their old position back, in addition to back pay.

In many cases, workplace bullying claims are filed as harassment claims, especially in cases that involve sexual harassment. It may also be possible for an individual to file a claim under anti-discrimination laws.

Employment discrimination matters can also be considered bullying if it is aimed at an individual because they belong to one of the protected classes noted above. Workplace bullying may also be included in a lawsuit for a hostile work environment, as noted above.

Should I Contact a Lawyer?

Mobbing is a serious issue that may have a major impact on a victim as well as on the workplace in general. If you have any questions related to mobbing or any type of workplace harassment, you should consult a workplace lawyer.

A lawyer can provide you with legal representation and advice for your unique situation. Your lawyer can also advise you whether your workplace may be a hostile work environment.

In addition, if you need to file a claim or appear in court, your lawyer will represent you and offer you guidance throughout the process.

Save Time and Money - Speak With a Lawyer Right Away

  • Buy one 30-minute consultation call or subscribe for unlimited calls
  • Subscription includes access to unlimited consultation calls at a reduced price
  • Receive quick expert feedback or review your DIY legal documents
  • Have peace of mind without a long wait or industry standard retainer
  • Get the right guidance - Schedule a call with a lawyer today!

16 people have successfully posted their cases

Find a Lawyer