Legal & Tax Alerts

Sanctioning of moral harassment at work

According to an enactment recently published in the Official Gazette[1] and in force as of August 10, 2020, the right of employees to a moral harassment-free working environment is acknowledged.

Constitutes moral harassment at work and is disciplinary, administratively or criminally sanctioned, as the case may be, any behaviour manifested towards an employee by another employee being their hierarchical superior, by a subordinate and/or by a hierarchically comparable employee, in connection to working relationships, which has as its purpose or effect a deterioration of working conditions by infringing the rights or dignity of the employee, by affecting their physical or mental health or by compromising their professional future. This behaviour can be manifested through any of the following forms: (i) hostile or unwanted conduct; (ii) verbal comments; (iii) actions or gestures.

Also, any behaviour that, by its systematic nature, may harm the dignity, physical or mental integrity of an employee or group of employees, endangering their work or degrading the work environment may constitute harassment at work. As a novelty, stress and physical exhaustion are expressly regulated as falling under this regulation.

Moral harassment at work committed by an employee, by violating the rights or dignity of another employee, thus constitutes an administrative offence and is punishable by a fine from RON 10,000 lei to 15,000.

In order to ensure the observance of the employees’ right to a moral harassment-free working environment, the employer is obliged to take any necessary measures in order to prevent and combat acts of moral harassment at work, including by providing disciplinary sanctions in the internal regulations for employees who commit such acts or deeds. Failure to comply with these obligations constitutes an administrative offence and is sanctioned with a fine from RON 30,000 lei to 50,000. Naturally, disciplinary liability does not remove the possibility of the employee being criminally or administratively held accountable for those acts.

Also, if the employer establishes, in any form, internal rules or measures that oblige, determine or urge employees to commit acts or acts of moral harassment at work, the act of the employer will be regarded as administrative offence and will be punished with a fine from RON 50,000 to 200,000.

In the event of a breach, victims of moral harassment at work only need to prove the factual elements of moral harassment, with the burden of proof falling on the employer. The intention to harm through acts or deeds of moral harassment in the workplace must not be proved.

Whenever it finds that an act of moral harassment at work was perpetrated, the court may order any of the following measures:

a) obliging the employer to take all necessary measures to stop any acts or deeds of moral harassment at the workplace regarding the employee in question;

b) the reinstatement at work of the employee in question;

c) obliging the employer to pay to the employee compensation in an amount equal to the equivalent of the salary rights they were deprived of;

d) obliging the employer to pay to the employee compensatory and moral damages;

e) obliging the employer to pay to the employee the amount necessary for the psychological counselling that the employee needs, for a reasonable period established by the occupational medicine doctor;

f) obliging the employer to modify the disciplinary records of the employee.

The National Council for Combating Discrimination may also apply any of the measures provided in letters a) and e), and the non-fulfilment by the employer of the ordered measures constitutes an administrative offence and is sanctioned with a fine from RON 100,000 to 200,000.

 

[1] Law no. 167/2020 for the amendment and completion of the Government Ordinance no. 137/2000 regarding the prevention and sanctioning of all forms of discrimination, as well as for the completion of art. 6 of Law no. 202/2002 on equal opportunities and treatment between women and men, published in the Official Gazette, Part I, no. 713 of August 7, 2020.

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