How to deal with verbal aggression at work

Verbal aggression: how to handle this particular situation?

Verbal attacks at work are a reality that many employees face. Managers must be able to manage it after getting conflict management training.

Verbal aggression at work: a problem not to be underestimated

According to Article L 1152-1 of the Labor Code, repeated verbal attacks constitute a form of moral harassment, the person responsible being liable to two years’ imprisonment and a 30,000 € fine. Articles L 4121-1 and L 4122-1 also stipulate the employer’s duty of protection towards its employees, as well as a responsibility of the employees themselves vis-à-vis their colleagues. But then, what should be done when one is a victim of verbal violence at work? How should managers react?

Victim of verbal aggression: what to do?

According to a report published in 2014, nearly half of employees say they face incivility at work. If the law does not define this notion, the agreement of 26 March 2010 on violence at work mentions it. In concrete terms, here are some examples of harassment incivilities:

  • humiliation and bullying
  • unwarranted criticism
  • denigration, spreading rumors
  • aggressive, insults
  • Unjustified threats of a disciplinary nature
  • discriminatory remarks

What is the procedure to follow if you are the victim of verbal aggression? First, you need to talk to your employer or the HR department. You can also inform the staff or union delegates, as well as the CHSCT. Finally, you can contact the doctor and the labor inspector, an aid association and / or a lawyer. Attention, remember that according to the law, the employee must prove the facts. Write down the exact words, context, time and date. If possible, obtain certificates from your colleagues. You can even make hidden recordings; they are admissible by the criminal court. MOVA training can guide the managers better to resolve these conflicts at work.

Managers: what to do if one of your employees complains of being harassed?

The employer must communicate about harassment and raise awareness among its teams. The preventive part covers for example:

  • the display of the texts of laws
  • Vigilance about working conditions (excessive workload, poor organization, faulty communication, etc.)
  • the obligation, inscribed in the rules of procedure, to respect the rules of etiquette “
  • training courses in conflict and incident management, for employees and the hierarchy

In case an employee comes to report a case of verbal aggression, you must act immediately:

  • by conducting an internal investigation
  • by attempting, if possible, mediation between the parties concerned
  • by taking sanctions against the stalker: warning, dismissal, transfer, even dismissal

If verbal aggression at work is still a taboo subject, speech is gradually released. It is the duty of everyone to be vigilant about the behavior of their colleagues and superiors, but also about his own conduct. Only in this way will moral harassment, one of the major axes of the quality of life at work, eventually disappear from the company.

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