Workplace conflicts

Protection of personality

Conflicts can arise in the workplace, between colleagues, with a subordinate, a superior or even with a client or supplier.

A customer who calls an employee "honey", a superior who summons, without reason, an employee for an interview several times a day, insisting looks from a colleague, employees who regularly make fun of a colleague on Facebook... Some situations can constitute mobbing or sexual harassment.

Conflict situations in the workplace can damage the employee's psychological or physical health. Conflicts at work can, in serious cases, cause burn-out or incapacity to work. The employer is obliged to protect the personality of his or her employees. He or she must react quickly to such acts.


The employer confronted with such a situation must take appropriate measures to put an end to the conflict. Various measures are possible depending on the circumstances. They must aim at reconciling the protagonists or, on the contrary, separate them so that they are no longer in contact.

If the employer does not take these measures, he risks incurring liability. If the violation of the employee's personality is particularly serious, the employer may, under strict conditions, claim compensation for moral damages.

Distinction from mobbing

Conflicts in the workplace are distinct from mobbing. Psychological harassment occurs when there is a series of hostile comments and/or actions over a long period of time aimed at isolating or marginalizing a person in the workplace.

The mere fact that there is a conflict or a bad atmosphere at work is not sufficient to consider that it is mobbing. However, the employer is still obliged to react and take measures, even if it is not psychological harassment per se.

Conflict resolution procedure

It is not enough for the employer to take measures only when work conflicts have already taken hold. It must also take preventive measures. In particular, regardless of the size of the company, the employer must have a conflict resolution procedure. The employer must designate a trustworthy person who must respect a certain number of conditions.


Dismissal in the context of a workplace conflict is delicate. If the conflict persists despite the employer's intervention and action, the employer may dismiss the troublemaker, however he/she must respect certain conditions and obligations.

On the other hand, if the employer can be held responsible for the conflict situation or does not take adequate measures, the termination may be wrongful. This is particularly risky when the employee is unable to work because of the conflict.

Workplace Love Relationships

The workplace is a place where people spend most of their day and where they can meet others, whether in a meeting or over the coffee machine. Employers rarely look favorably on these relationships, which can, in the event of a break-up, turn into open warfare in the open space, or even accusations of sexual harassment. The balance between the right to privacy of employees who are in a relationship and the prevention of conflicts is a difficult one to strike.


Sometimes, following an argument, an employee will get out of hand and lash out at his or her employer, manager or colleague. This can be a delicate situation. When the employee leaves the company as a result of this argument, the employer can only consider the employee to have abandoned his or her job in very specific circumstances.

A termination with immediate effect is only possible in the most serious cases, when the employee directly threatens his employer or a colleague. However, if the employer is responsible for the conflict, termination with immediate effect is not necessarily justified.

Staff parties

Company parties often involve a glass of champagne or a cocktail party to end the year on a high note. However, when employees abuse the amount of alcohol, risky situations are never far away. An employee who puts his hand on the secretary's backside, an employee who insults his/her superior... Conflicts at work can occur during an evening that promised to be relaxed. The employer must take preventive measures to avoid such excesses.

Dress code

In principle, the employee enjoys freedom of expression and freedom of religion, both of which are enshrined in the Federal Constitution. This implies that the employee can choose his or her dress and in particular wear religious symbols, such as a veil. When these ostentatious signs cause conflicts in the workplace, the employer can and must react. He/she may, under certain conditions, ask an employee to remove her veil or his/her cross-shaped pendant, in the name of the company's religious neutrality.

Social Networks

With the advent of the Internet and social networks, conflicts sometimes arise on the web. Some employees can be the target of repeated aggressions by messages or publications, including the spreading of rumors, insults or compromising photos taken without their consent... Are they still work conflicts? What can and should the employer do?

Termination Agreement

When there is some tension in the workplace, the collaboration between the employee and his employer or colleagues sometimes becomes complicated. This is particularly problematic when the employee has entered into a fixed-term contract that does not end for several months. The parties can always conclude a termination agreement at any time. This agreement must respect several strict conditions of validity.


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