Harassment is a complex matter. What one person considers as proper behavior, another may perceive to be harassment. In many cases, the lines are not sharply defined. Psychological harassment can take various forms, such as: degrading comments often in public, offensive behavior, refuse to communicate or threatening remarks. So, how can we judge if a situation in the EU workplace is harassment? According to the Staff Regulations, Article 12a: „Psychological harassment always involves persistent and repetitive actions; targeting one person in particular, serious impact on the victim in terms of physical and mental health.”
Generation 2004 strongly believes every single staff member has to contribute to creating a culture of dignity and mutual respect of basic human values. However, often the only thing needed is simple and basic decency.
From our daily experience, the most vulnerable categories of staff are those without a permanent contract with the institutions. However, harassment also affects many colleagues with permanent positions, being the common factor that they all contact us to share their horror stories where they experience unfair treatment, harassment and inappropriate behavior. These colleagues often request that we react strongly against any offensive behavior and that we focus on sharing practical information useful for the victims.
Following on our experience and reflection on the matter we would like to share a couple of ways to deal with this phenomena, which hinders the performance of colleagues, our institution and ultimately the European Union as a whole:
- Colleagues under a situation of Harassment are often not in a mental and/or physical condition to confront their harassers. However, other close colleagues can help either by ’speaking up’ about a situation that could hurt someone’s feelings or be viewed as harassment, or by reporting the situation to the proper authority to ensure action is taken immediately to contribute to a healthy, enjoyable, and harassment-free workplace.
- Communication is often key! Sometimes a perceived harassment situation may spring from misunderstandings or from the harasser not being aware that he is hurting someone’s feelings. It is not easy to spot such situations, especially if you are at the receiving end of a perceived harassment situation. However, exchange of information and feelings usually leads to mutual understanding and to the creation of a respectful workplace where employees are valued and respected no matter what their personal circumstances are (race, national or ethnic origin, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, family status or disability).
For further reading on this matter, and how to address it, please keep reading through the following articles: