Workplace bullying in court/Mobbing die Zweite

Deutscher Artikel in der FAZ.

bq. Die britische Niederlassung der Frankfurter Großbank wurde am Dienstag wegen mutmaßlichen Mobbings gegen eine ehemalige Angestellte zu einer Entschädigungszahlung von 800.000 Pfund (1,2 Millionen Euro) verurteilt.

On July 15 I wrote about the word Mobbing (workplace bullying).

Today the Guardian reported on a case at Deutsche Bank in London under the heading City woman wins £800,000 damages over bank bullies. The article even uses the word mobbing, albeit in inverted commas:

bq. The court heard that four female co-workers had targeted Ms Green, who was a company secretary assistant at the bank, and she was regularly the target of their lewd and vicious comments.
One colleague told Ms Green she stank and blew raspberries at her as she walked by; she was regularly ignored and was forced to lock her work away in her drawers, or it would vanish. Her name was also removed from the firm’s global intranet directory.
She was the victim of a campaign of bullying or “mobbing” by the group of women, the court heard.

The court said that the managers took a very weak line.

bq. The judge said he was satisfied the bank was in breach of its duty of care to Ms Green. The bullying was a long standing problem, line managers knew or should have known about it and acted, and there were other victims, he said.
“The management was weak and ineffectual,” Mr Justice Owen said. “The managers collectively closed their eyes to what was going on, no doubt in the hope the problem would go away.”

Herbert Hopf kindly wrote out for me the titles of three EU directives which contain measures on harassment at work, inter alia:

Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin
Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation
Directive 2002/73/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 September 2002 amending Council Directive 76/207/EEC on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women as regards access to employment, vocational training and promotion, and working conditions

13 thoughts on “Workplace bullying in court/Mobbing die Zweite

  1. I get “mobbed” on a daily basis by customers – so where is my compensation? A ridiculous amount in my opinion Margaret – how can that be justified? Having seen the interview with the women in question on BBC News, I can fully sympathise with her. But, how can a amount like that be justified? Get them to pay the money to charity instead – that would be fairer.

    Paul

  2. Paul,
    As you will have seen when you looked at the article I linked to, or in the German press, these were all compensatory damages, not punitive damages, and most of them were for future loss of earnings and pension. I think this is justified.
    The problem sometimes arises that the court overestimates what is needed. For instance, she might get another job that gives her earnings and pension just as high as she lost. Then in a perfect world the money should be paid back to the Deutsche Bank, should it? I don’t think it could go to charity. In the case of punitive damages in the USA, in some states some of it goes to the state. But in this case it was all money the court thinks the claimant deserves.

  3. >>For instance, she might get another job that gives her earnings and pension just as high as she lost. Then in a perfect world the money should be paid back to the Deutsche Bank, should it?

  4. >>Mr Justice Owen said a fifth colleague, Stuart Preston, also caused Ms Green distress and treated her in a dismissive or hostile manner which he seemed to view as part of a Darwinian “survival of the fittest” ethos.

  5. So, Paul, considering that being a dustman is a dirty job, you think it’s a normal feature of City jobs that a woman appointed to a fairly responsible post is ganged up on by four colleagues, who among other things hide her work and get her name removed from the intranet directory, blow raspberries and tell her she stinks, and when she complains about some of this behaviour her superiors ignore it, when it is their duty to discipline the colleagues bullying her? In that case the judge will have been wrong. Anyway, Deutsche Bank can appeal if they like.
    But if you think it was wrong for her superiors to ignore the situation (they were probably afraid of four women), then you object to damages being awarded.

  6. >>Paul, considering that being a dustman is a dirty job, you think it’s a normal feature of City jobs that a woman appointed to a fairly responsible post is ganged up on by four colleagues, who among other things hide her work and get her name removed from the intranet directory, blow raspberries and tell her she stinks, and when she complains about some of this behaviour her superiors ignore it, when it is their duty to discipline the colleagues bullying her?

  7. Well, Paul, I don’t know about that. You write about ‘schoolyard pranks’, and a colleague spoke of ‘schoolyard tactics’. It makes a lot of difference what spirit it’s done in. Did it play a role that she was a woman? I must have missed that. But presumably they wouldn’t have done it to a man.
    Some of the law on harassment in the workplace is new, but it’s always been the law that the employer has a duty to protect employees against other employees who are ‘jokers’. As to whether she was oversensitive, there is a point at which people are so sensitive that the employer cannot be expected to have provided for it, but the judge will have listened to all the evidence and made up his mind. The judgment isn’t online yet (it should be at http://www.bailii.org sooner or later), but I will be interested to read it. Without having heard the evidence, I don’t find it easy to come to a decision.
    However, you are surely entitled to your opinion!

  8. >>Did it play a role that she was a woman? I must have missed that. But presumably they wouldn’t have done it to a man

  9. It was you who said it played a role that she was a woman – I was just trying to understand what you meant.
    I’m glad to hear you’re adopting a dog. Have fun! Are you going to tell it it’s adopted or bring it up thinking you’re its father?

  10. Coming back to the subject, I find it paradoxical that some of the worst workplace bullying, as well as racial and sexist harassment, I’ve come across has been in legal environments pre-EU legislation e.g. in City of London/West End Solicitors’ Firms, even Notarial Practices and Barristers’ Chambers – to wit Cherie Booth/Blair’s QC nightmare recollections of her pupil-master Lord Derry Irving of Lairg.

    Problem is how to broach the bullying subject with superiors who will naturally support their bad-egg fellow-Partner.

    The trainee is locked in to Notarial Articles of Clerkship, a Training Contract or Pupillage and has to kotow just to complete the training period.

  11. Paul: I see that the Solicitors Journal has an article on the subject. They quote a lawyer to the effect that the amount of damages is not surprising, but the circumstances are. They also imply an appeal might succeed, on the basis that the defence argued that the claimant’s vulnerability to mental illness was the main reason for the problems.
    The dog looks lovely. I hope you can keep her hunting instincts in control. It can be dangerous if you encounter these J

  12. Apparently she hasn’t got any trace of a hunting instinct in her (as yet). All her sisters (who have been adopted already) want to do apparently is be stroked

    Paul

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.