On the 7th of August, 2020, the Law no. 167/2020 was published in the Official Gazette, part. I, no 713 (hereinafter the “Law no. 167/2020”), having as object the amendment and completion of the Government Ordinance no. 137/2000 on the prevention and sanctioning of all forms of discrimination, as well as for the completion of art. 6 of the Law no. 202/2002 on the equality of chances and treatment between women and men.

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New measures on prevention and combating moral harassment in the workplace (“MOBBING”)

On the 7th of August, 2020, the Law no. 167/2020 was published in the Official Gazette, part. I, no 713 (hereinafter the “Law no. 167/2020”), having as object the amendment and completion of the Government Ordinance no. 137/2000 on the prevention and sanctioning of all forms of discrimination, as well as for the completion of art. 6 of the Law no. 202/2002 on the equality of chances and treatment between women and men.

The most important amendments brought by Law no. 167/2020 are mentioned below.

1. Definition  of moral harassment in the workplace

Law no. 167/2020 defines moral harassment in the workplace as any behaviour displayed with respect to an employee by another employee who is their superior, by an inferior and/or by an employee with a comparable hierarchical position, regarding the work relationship, which have as purpose or effect a deterioration of the working conditions by harming the rights or dignity of the employee, by affecting their physical or mental health or by compromising their professional future, conduct manifested under any of the following forms: (i) hostile or unwanted conduct; (II) verbal comments; (iii) actions or gestures.

Also, it is considered moral harassment in the workplace, any conduct which, due to its systematic character, may lead to the harming of dignity, physical or mental integrity of an employee or a group of employees, by putting their work at risk of degrading the working environment.

One important aspect to take into consideration is that stress and physical exhaustion (the burnout syndrome) are types of moral harassment in the workplace.

2. New obligations incumbent upon the employer
 

Employees have the right not to be harassed at work.

Accordingly, each employer has the obligation to take any necessary measures in order to prevent and combat acts or deeds of moral harassment at work, including by providing in the internal regulation the disciplinary sanctions for employees who commit acts or deeds of moral harassment at work.

It is forbidden for the employer to establish, in any form, internal rules or measures that oblige, determine or urge employees to commit acts or deeds of moral harassment at work.

No employee may be sanctioned, dismissed or discriminated against, including with regard to remuneration, training, promotion or extension of employment relationship, because he has been subjected or refused to be subjected to moral harassment at work.

3. Applicable sanctions and competent bodies

In case of non-compliance with the new obligations provided by law, employers can be held liable by the National Council for Combating Discrimination, as follows:

  • failure to take any necessary measures in order to prevent and combat acts or deeds of moral harassment at work, including by providing in the internal regulation the disciplinary sanctions for employees who commit acts or deeds of moral harassment at work, is sanctioned with a fine from RON 30.000 to RON 50.000;
  • imposing, in any form, internal rules or measures that oblige, determine, or urge employees to commit acts or deeds of moral harassment at work is sanctioned with a fine from 50,000 RON to 200,000 RON;
  • failure to comply with the measures ordered by the National Council for Combating Discrimination is sanctioned with a fine from RON 100,000 to RON 200,000.

In addition, the harassed employee has the possibility to claim, in the court of law, for civil damages and re-establishing the situation as prior to the act of discrimination occurring or annulment of the situation established as a result of discrimination, in accordance with the civil law provisions.

In this case, the court that finds that a moral harassment has been committed may:

  • order the employer to take all necessary measures to stop any acts or deeds of moral harassment at work with regard to the employee concerned;
  • order the reintegration of the employee in question into the workplace;
  • order the employer to pay the employee compensation in an amount equal to the equivalent of the salary rights he was deprived of;
  • order the employer to pay compensatory and moral damages to the employee;
  • order 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 physician;
  • to order the employer to modify the employee's disciplinary records.

At the same time, employees who are guilty of moral harassment at work by infringing the rights or dignity of another employee, can be sanctioned with a fine from RON 10,000 to RON 15,000. Mention should be made that the disciplinary liability of the employee guilty of moral harassment does not exclude the contravention or criminal liability for those acts.