According to the Union of Civil Servants of the State of Minas Gerais (Serjusmig), in the pandemic, there was an increase in complaints of moral harassment among employees of the Court of Justice. The union states that, in 2021 alone, it has made, on average, 10 calls per week related to harassment, either between superiors and subordinates (vertical harassment) or between workers at the same hierarchical level, the so-called “horizontal harassment”.
In a brief survey by the union in July, with about 200 employees, 76% said they had already suffered bullying at work and the same percentage said they already felt like leaving their job or changing their workplace, due to the the way people treated you.
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Abusive and repetitive pressures, with gestures or words, threats, embarrassment and humiliation are considered forms of moral harassment, which injure the person’s dignity, cause physical and mental illness and make it difficult to live together at work. According to psychologist Ana Elisa Xavier, distance work, which has increased in the pandemic, is not immune to harassment.
“When you leave home, sometimes you have a six-hour work routine, organize your time to meet the demands within that pre-established time. Being at home, flexibility is greater, but time consumption for work activities can also be greater, causing wear and tear”, he observes.
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“I pass near the forum and it’s like a cemetery”
As a result of harassment, professionals report loss of productivity, need to leave or even the decision to move to another city and place of residence. This occurred with the civil servant of the Court of Justice Constantino, a fictitious name because the worker asked not to be identified.
“I was on leave for almost a year. In the forensics, they even asked me if I wanted to retire. I said no, I want to be helpful, I would like to work. Then, I was given the option to choose another region. Thank God, this was the first step for me to get out of bullying”, she says.
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Constantino was harassed with derogatory and repetitive comments from a superior about the quantity, quality and way of performing the service. From the perception of the problem to the change, a year elapsed and, in the meantime, he became depressed and anxious, began to eat poorly, lost weight, saw family life deteriorate, lost the will to work and live, and ended up being removed for medical advice. Finally, he decided to seek support from the union.
“I got my removal to another county. I’m away from my family all week, I spend more on home, but I don’t have the money to pay as much as I’m covered. Now, I pass close to the forum and it’s like a cemetery”, he says.
“Not even a company does that”
During the 15 years she worked in special courts, the server Vera (fictitious name) had two children, became ill, underwent psychological counseling, was changed secretary and started taking controlled medication, until she left work by order of a psychiatrist . During this period, she suffered humiliations promoted, above all, by three clerks.
The worker says that a clerk yelled at his subordinates, mainly women, humiliated employees in front of their colleagues and made nasty comments in the hallways. She, who planned to graduate in Law, gave up, due to the negative influence of people in the area who humiliated her. But even that was used against Vera.
“He threw it in my face that I had to study, since I had already worked there for 13 years. I don’t have college, but many interns who were there learned with me. But for my boss, no. He even made a point of mentioning this in my evaluations”, he recalls.
A change of leadership occurred and other abuses followed, especially during the implementation of the Electronic Judicial Process (PJe) and with the face-to-face work schedule in the pandemic. Only this time, the harassment started to occur in a more subtle way.
“The current boss doesn’t scream, humiliate or curse. What she does is force you to work extra hours, she makes her time rule. I had weekly therapy and she didn’t agree to keep me on a fixed schedule. The server does not have a routine. We have no life. Not even a company does that!”, he criticizes.
“I’ll pull you out of the office”
According to the psychologist Ana Elisa Xavier, it may happen that, after successive experiences, the harassed person takes as true the derogatory evaluations he received and, based on them, begins to police himself and withdraw. She is then led to demand of herself a productivity and excellence defined by others, to be afraid to take a stand, to cancel herself according to the opinion of others.
In addition, there are groups that are more exposed to this type of approach than others, due to the violence, inequalities, prejudices and discrimination that permeate society. These factors especially affect LGBTQIA+ people, black people, women, people with disabilities, among others.
The server Vera noticed that her two pregnancy processes and those of a colleague were disrespectfully approached by a secretary’s team. Another colleague, who had special needs, was harassed by the manager. Yet another professional was much persecuted during the period when it was a depression.
“I got tired of seeing the boss yell at her. “I’m going to drag you out of the office. Not happy? He asks for his resignation!”, he reports.
Evaluation or harassment?
Performance evaluation, which should provide workers with parameters to improve their performance, is often used as an instrument of intimidation, blackmail and threats in the workplace. Serjusmig’s vice president, Eduardo Couto, warns that the situation could get even worse in the public service if the Administrative Reform (PEC 32) proposed by the Bolsonaro government is approved.
“If the Administrative Reform passes, they can reformulate and redesign the performance evaluation instrument, aimed at the mass dismissal of public servants who already have tenure. So it can be used even worse. That’s why it’s important to fight against PEC 32”, he defends.
“Moral harassment is not fought alone”
At the slightest sign that they are being bullied in the workplace, it is important for the worker to look for the union that represents him. In addition, building a support network in the workplace, with colleagues who are sensitive to your problem, can help. It is critical not to face harassment alone.
Psychologist Ana Elisa Xavier also recommends extra attention to self-care, that workers prioritize themselves and try to get rid of conflicts that will not do them any good. “We need to start asking ourselves: which relationships do I want to live in, those that violate me or relationships that make me feel good about myself?”, he asks.
Finally, when you see a person being harassed, it is essential to build bridges of dialogue and help. “If I can see that my colleague is suffering, it is important to signal to the person that he or she should try to know what is going on, to know about their rights. The colleague can strengthen the support network, which is weakened. Moral harassment is not necessary. fight alone”, concludes the psychologist.
Law that punishes harassment
In 2011, Complementary Law 116/2011 was approved, on prevention and punishment of moral harassment in the state public administration, within the scope of the direct and indirect administration of any of the powers (Executive, Legislative and Judiciary).
“The State will provide, in the form of the regulation, psychological support for the passive subjects of moral harassment, as well as for the active subjects, in case of need”, states the law.
In February, the Minas Gerais Court of Justice created a working group to study the fight against moral harassment, sexual harassment and discrimination. The group was tasked with preparing proposals that will integrate the Policy for the Prevention and Confronting of Moral Harassment, Sexual Harassment and Discrimination, created from Resolution 351 of the National Council of Justice (CNJ).
In April, the Court launched a new procedure to receive complaints of bullying at work, through the Electronic Information System (SEI). In the tool, the whistleblower’s anonymity is guaranteed. The system also provides a petition usage manual, with instructions on how to file complaints.
Source: BoF Minas Gerais
Edition: Rafaella Dotta