What is the difference between bullying and harassment?

Bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace

Mobbing and sexual harassment in the workplace - the victims are predominantly female - represent a considerable burden for the working atmosphere. Around 1.6 million people in Germany are exposed to psychological terror in the workplace. Not only employees suffer from such conflicts, but also companies and administrations. The economic damage caused by bullying is estimated at 12.5 billion euros annually.

The control center for equality between women and men is committed to removing taboos and raising awareness of this topic as well as providing comprehensive information to all those involved.


The Federal Commission for Employee Protection (BukAs) organizes a nationwide bullying reporting point and, in addition to advising and caring for those affected, also actively regulates conflicts for the first time.


So that those responsible in companies and administrations can prevent bullying, recognize problems in good time and deal successfully with them, AOK Bavaria and Mobbing Advice Munich have published the brochure "Manage bullying - successfully shape work relationships" (available from the equality office). The brochure gives managers and specialists as well as works and staff councils specific information they need for targeted action.

For affected employees there is also the leaflet "Using conflicts - recognizing and coping with bullying", which was also promoted by the control center for equality between women and men.
But not everything that makes employees feel uncomfortable at work is bullying. Many workplace conflicts do not fit the definition of bullying.

In terms of labor law, the term is understood to mean continued, building on or overarching hostility, harassment or behavior that serves to discriminate.

Links related to bullying

Sexual harassment does not include flirting in the workplace, which is based on reciprocity. Only what happens involuntarily to one of the parties involved counts as sexual harassment. This includes not only physical contact, but also verbal attacks. It is a form of violence against women.

A legal definition of sexual harassment can also be found in the General Equal Treatment Act AGG. There it says in Section 3, Paragraph 4:

Sexual harassment is a disadvantage in relation to Section 2 Paragraph 1 No. 1 to 4, if an undesired, sexually determined behavior, including undesirable sexual acts and requests for them, sexually determined physical contact, comments of sexual content as well as undesirable showing and The visible attachment of pornographic representations belongs, aims or causes that the dignity of the person concerned is violated, in particular if an environment characterized by intimidation, hostility, humiliation, degradation or insult is created.