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Proving Mobbing Cases in Turkish Law

Introduction

Mobbing can be defined as psychological harassment in the workplace and can lead to serious problems on both individual and institutional levels. This article, based on the topic of “Proving Mobbing Cases“, will discuss the concept of mobbing, its legal aspects, and especially the challenges of proving it.

What is Mobbing?

Mobbing refers to actions of systematic and regular psychological harassment carried out by one or a group in the workplace. These actions are usually aimed at isolating the person socially and professionally within the workplace.

“(…) Temporary behaviors that do not show continuity due to momentary anger are not mobbing. For an action to be considered mobbing, it must be systematic, continuous, and intentional. Also, the purpose of the action must be correctly identified. Because in mobbing, the goal is to get rid of the victim or harm them, or to wear them down within the work relationship.” 9th Civil Chamber, Basis:2010/38293 Decision:2013/5390 Date:12.02.2013

Legal Framework

Although mobbing is not explicitly defined in Turkish law, it is addressed in terms of the consequences of psychological harassment actions through Supreme Court decisions and definitions in the doctrine. While there is no explicit definition of mobbing in the Labor Law, the protection of the worker’s personal rights is accepted as a general principle.

Challenges in Proof

Proving mobbing claims in court is difficult. This is because mobbing cases often involve situations where victims have difficulty collecting concrete evidence. The covert and insidious nature of mobbing, along with the reluctance of other employees to testify, makes the evidence collection process complex.

Supreme Court and Mobbing Cases

In Turkey, the Supreme Court requires consistent and convincing evidence to evaluate mobbing claims. However, the subjective nature of mobbing and the necessity to prove it with often abstract evidence complicate the litigation process.

“(…) According to the case file, it is understood that the plaintiff’s allegations of being subjected to mobbing, having their salary reduced without consent, and suffering material and moral damages due to unjust actions could not be proven properly. Therefore, while the case should be completely dismissed, the written decision was incorrect, necessitating reversal.” 22nd Civil Chamber, Basis: 2017/40481 Decision: 2018/199 Date: 16.01.2018

Proof and Evidence Collection in Mobbing Cases

The evidence collection process necessary for mobbing claims to be accepted in court is one of the most challenging stages for victims. Here are some steps that can be followed in this process:

Witness Statements: The testimonies of other employees in the workplace are critical in a mobbing case. However, these witnesses may hesitate to testify due to fear of the mobber or management.

“(…) The plaintiff claimed that they were subjected to mobbing in the workplace, and the burden of proof is on the plaintiff who claims mobbing. However, considering the witness statements and the case file, the plaintiff could not prove the mobbing claim. The witness statements were not based on direct observation and knowledge but generally on what they heard from the plaintiff. Moreover, the witness statements were insufficient to prove the actions violating personal rights, and there was no other concrete evidence. Therefore, the court’s acceptance of the moral compensation claim instead of its rejection was incorrect, necessitating reversal.” 9th Civil Chamber, Basis:2016/16456 Decision:2018/22875 Date:11.12.2018

Camera Records: Workplace camera footage has been considered as evidence in Supreme Court decisions. However, these records need to be supported by other evidence.

Written Communication and Documentation: Written communications such as emails, messaging applications, and official documents can be used as concrete evidence in mobbing cases. These documents provide supporting evidence for mobbing claims.

Psychological Reports: Reports from psychologists or psychiatrists can be used in court to prove the psychological effects of mobbing on victims.

The proof of mobbing is generally determined by the evidence that the victim can present and the employer’s defense against these pieces of evidence​​.

What Situations Can Be Considered Mobbing at Work?

Mobbing is characterized by the repetition and systematic nature of workplace behaviors. Situations such as constant criticism, cutting off communication, baseless rumors, not assigning qualified tasks, and constantly being given meaningless tasks with frequent relocations can be considered mobbing. These behaviors negatively affect the individual’s performance and psychology in the workplace, making their professional life difficult​​.

“(…) In the specific dispute, it is evident from the information and documents in the case file that the plaintiff had some problems with the new manager after the change of the head of the unit where the plaintiff worked at the defendant’s workplace, and there were adverse changes in the working conditions. However, it is not possible to speak of constant and systematic pressure, in other words, mobbing. Therefore, while the rejection of the plaintiff’s compensation claim based on mobbing should have been dismissed, its acceptance was incorrect, necessitating reversal.” 9th Civil Chamber, Basis:2016/12989 Decision:2020/2304 Date:17.02.2020

Ways to Ease the Burden of Proof in Mobbing Cases

One of the biggest challenges in mobbing cases is the heavy burden of proof on the victim. However, legal regulations and court decisions tend to ease the burden of proof in mobbing claims​​. Here are some measures and judicial approaches that can be taken to ease this burden:

Preparation and Documentation

The Importance of Documentation: To support mobbing claims, victims need to record events in detail. This can include emails, written messages, official documents, and keeping a journal.

Electronic Communication Records: In today’s widespread use of technology, data obtained from electronic communication tools (emails, social media messages, mobile messaging applications) can provide strong evidence.

Evidence Evaluation Processes

Objective Evaluation of Evidence: The fair evaluation of the presented evidence for both parties ensures decision-making without mistakes. Detailed examinations should be conducted to prevent the manipulation of evidence.

Use of Expert Witnesses: Especially in mobbing cases, utilizing expert witnesses to assess psychological effects helps the court make more accurate decisions.

“(…) Considering the consistent and corroborative statements of the plaintiff and defendant witnesses and the multiple doctor reports pointing to the same findings and corroborating each other, it is clear that mobbing was proven; furthermore, in legal proceedings and especially in mobbing claims, a one hundred percent proof is not required (…) it was concluded that showing evidence facilitation in favor of the employee in this matter would be more appropriate for fairness and justice.” 22nd Civil Chamber, Basis:2014/2157 Decision:2014/3434 Date:21.02.2014

Legal Rights and Protection Methods Against Mobbing

The issue of protecting individuals’ rights and guiding them in the fight against mobbing holds an important place in Turkish labor law. Here are the legal rights and protection methods that individuals subjected to mobbing can apply to:

Legal Rights

Right to Complain: Employees can directly complain to the employer or the human resources department if they are subjected to mobbing.

Right to File a Lawsuit: Mobbing victims can file a compensation lawsuit against the employer for the psychological harassment they experienced. This compensation can cover both material and moral damages.

Right to Resign: If mobbing becomes unbearable in the workplace, the employee can terminate the employment contract for a just cause and claim severance pay.

Legal Processes and Judicial Recommendations in Mobbing Cases

Effectively handling mobbing cases in court and protecting the rights of victims requires special expertise in labor law. Here are the details related to managing this process and judicial recommendations:

In Which Situations Are Mobbing Cases Filed?

Mobbing cases are usually filed when there is continuous pressure and harassment in the workplace. Such cases can be filed due to systematic bad treatment, threats, violence, and humiliation behaviors in the workplace. Especially, obvious examples of mobbing include preventing self-presentation, constant criticism, and loud reprimands​​.

Legal Processes

Filing the Case: The process of filing a lawsuit related to mobbing claims begins with a lawsuit petition. This petition should clearly state the details of the mobbing actions, the affected individuals, and the claimed compensation.

Presentation of Evidence: The stage of presenting evidence in court is perhaps the most critical part of mobbing cases. Emails, messages, work reports, witness statements, and if available, security camera footage are used to support the claims.

Hearing Witnesses: Witness statements are crucial in mobbing cases. Colleagues, managers, or other eyewitnesses can provide information to the court about the incidents.

Expert Examination: In most cases, the court may appoint an expert to assess psychological effects. This expert objectively reports the psychological impacts of mobbing on the victim.

“(…) considering the comparison of the office, the work performed, and working conditions in the financial affairs department, it is necessary to have an expert examination conducted to determine whether mobbing was applied to the plaintiff as claimed without any doubt, and a decision should be made according to the result; otherwise, the acceptance was incorrect, necessitating reversal.” 22nd Civil Chamber, Basis:2012/24019 Decision:2013/17421 Date:12.07.2013

Judicial Recommendations

Act in a Timely Manner: Individuals subjected to mobbing are advised to record the events they experienced as soon as possible and initiate legal proceedings. The risk of losing evidence increases over time.

Legal Consultancy: Mobbing cases often involve complex legal processes. Therefore, working with an experienced lawyer in the field helps manage the process correctly.

Psychological Support: It is important for victims to receive not only legal but also psychological support. This support helps them manage the stressful and emotional aspects of the process.

Public Opinion and Communication Strategy: Especially in large companies, mobbing cases can attract public attention. In this case, it is recommended that companies follow a transparent, balanced, and ethical communication strategy.

Conclusion

Mobbing emerges as a serious problem in the workplace, offering legal remedies for victims to seek their rights. However, the burden of proof and the evidence collection process in mobbing cases can be challenging, necessitating detailed and consistent evidence for victims to protect their rights. Awareness and legal support are crucial in fighting mobbing and protecting your rights in this process.

 

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Proving Mobbing Cases

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