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Discussion or harassment?

Conflicts, discussions, disagreements or clashes in the workplace do not mean harassment.

Moral harassment occurs when there is a pattern of intentional repeated behavior directed at an individual or group of individuals with the intention of injuring or intimidating. It can take many forms, such as verbal abuse or threats, intimidation, physical aggression, social exclusion and humiliation. If the conflict is due to a disagreement or difference of opinion that is resolved fairly and without misconception, it is not considered as harassment.

The High Court of Justice of Asturias [TSJ Asturias 15-11-2022] recalls that, in order for there to be harassment, there must be an attempt to systematically harass, degrade or harass the worker.

In short, case law has defined harassment as a situation in which a person or group of people exercise extreme psychological violence:

  • Systematically (at least once per week) and for a prolonged period (over six months) in the workplace.
  • And in order to destroy the victim’s communication networks, damage her reputation, disrupt her work and get her to give up her work.

This could be demonstrated by:

  • Insults, derogatory comments or offensive jokes.
  • Threats of sanctions, ostracism or ill-treatment.
  • Humiliation and contempt for a person’s work performance or personal characteristics.
  • Unwarranted criticism, unjustified promotions and unjustified relocations.
  • Excessive control and monitoring of an employee’s activities.
  • Assignment of tasks with no possibility of success. If any of the above situations are present in the workplace, harassment is likely to take place and not a simple discussion between colleagues.

IT worker leave

Social courts have started to declare redundancies of IT workers null and void. The Social Court No. 1 in Gijón [JS1 Gijón 15-11-202] declared null the dismissal of an IT worker after it became known that the cause of the dismissal had been exclusively the disease situation.

Following the publication of Law 15/2022, the disease is a cause of autonomous discrimination, without the need for it to be long-term or equal to disability. If the worker provides evidence of discrimination, it will be up to the company to provide an objective and reasonable justification for dismissal.

The Court’s decision is a reminder that employers must be aware of the risks of dismissing employees due to a temporary disability situation.

Entrepreneurs must carefully assess the situation and act properly before taking drastic measures, such as dismissal. They must ensure that they have clear policies and procedures to protect employees against improper dismissal for temporary inability.

This includes making sure that they are aware of the employee’s status, the duration and impact of disability, and any reasonable adjustments that can be made. Furthermore, they must establish clear criteria for determining when an employee is no longer fit for work from a medical point of view, and make a fair assessment of the situation of each employee before taking any decision on dismissal.

They must also consider alternatives to dismissal, such as providing reasonable adjustments or providing other forms of assistance. Furthermore, employers must ensure that their redundancy procedures comply with applicable legislation and regulations.

Finally, they must consult a qualified lawyer about their legal obligations under the applicable laws before taking any action.

The declaration of dismissal nullity entails the readmission of the worker (with payment of payment salaries) and the payment of additional compensation. Also in the same place or in a similar place, with payment of the payment of the payment of the payment of the payment of the payment of the payment of the payment of the payment of the payment of the payment of the payment of the payment of the payment of the payment of the payment of additional compensation. The compensation is calculated on the basis of the length of the period between the date of dismissal and that of readmission.

Access keys: employee responsibility

A company fired an employee for failing to protect their access keys to the system and sharing them with a partner, who used them fraudulently and was also fired.

The company had a clear policy on password custody. The company was entitled to dismiss the employee for violating this policy. It is important that employees understand the importance of protecting their passwords, especially when it comes to sensitive information and resources. The company had every right to take disciplinary action against the employee for failing to follow the appropriate procedures.

However, the High Court of Justice of Castile and León [TSJ Castile and León 03-11-2022] has declared this dismissal to be inappropriate for the following reasons:

There was no low-key safe place in the company for the custody of keys and passwords. Since they had to be changed every two months, it is reasonable for the worker to point them out.
There has been no breach of good contractual faith, abuse of trust, unfairness or fraud because there is neither an intentional element nor relevant negligence, as the use of your passwords was made without your knowledge or consent.

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