Condemns a company and a boss for harassing an employee after being a mother: "You have two fucking babies, it's your decision"

Condemns Webhelp Payment Services Spain and one of its bosses for a "clear" situation of workplace harassment or mobbing of a worker because she was a mother. The sentence accounts for a prolonged harassment for more than four years by one of the company's directives to her employee, since she had her first child. "I have eaten a son, I am not going to eat two" and "you are a daughter of a bitch, you are not going to make me look bad, are you retarded?", She referred to the affected one. The magistrate concludes the existence of "intentional and repeated harassment of the victim" by the boss, who remains in her position, but also "indolently by the company, knowing and consenting to these attitudes." She imposes compensation of 80,000 euros on the victim, in addition to the termination of her contract with compensation of about 55,000 euros.

The judicial resolution of the Social Court number 1 of Madrid, signed by magistrate Amaya Olivas Díaz, has been appealed by both parties. The company, one of the subsidiaries in Spain of the French multinational Webhelp, confirms the appeal to elDiario.es and justifies that the condemned director is in his position. "No decision has yet been made in this regard, because there is no final ruling," company sources respond.

From the defense of the worker, her lawyer Carlos de Frías responds to this medium that her appeal seeks to increase the compensation to the victim given the seriousness of the facts, the psychological repercussions for the worker and for the "flagrant attack on two basic rights of any person: equality and physical integrity". The compensation could reach up to 225,018 euros, but the magistrate sets 80,000 as the amount to compensate the affected party, an amount that she considers may also have a "deterrent effect" of this type of action.

Lucía (fictitious name) worked for Webhelp Payment Services Spain, which is dedicated to outsourcing credit management, with recognized seniority since 2007. It is a payment entity. The only direct boss of her, the condemned, was in A Coruña and Lucía in Madrid, teleworking. Both depended on the Barcelona subsidiary of the company, as stated in the ruling. The Webhelp group in Spain is chaired by Helena Guardans, express detractor of the labor reform and the jurisprudence of the Supreme that knocked down work and service contracts in the contact center, which concentrates a large part of the multinational's activity. Specifically, Webhelp Payment Services is led by Axel Mouquet, president and CEO of the company.

Judge Olivas Díaz reflected in the ruling that the "intentional and repeated" harassment of the victim was "aimed at attacking her personal dignity, with the sole purpose of forcing her to voluntarily resign from the company." The harassment or mobbing has occurred since Lucía had her first child in 2016. The worker rejoined at the beginning of 2017 and the boss "changed her attitude and her behavior towards her," the proven facts show.

Despite what was marked by the legal working hours in the collective agreement, the employee was forced to work many more hours. Faced with Lucía's complaints, the boss told her phrases such as: "Get better organized", "you don't know how to prioritize". "If you focused, you would do something right. You are out of place. Haven't you listened to me? How many times do I have to repeat it to you? You are no use to me!", the directive referred to the worker. The emails from the boss to the employee analyzed in the case of the year 2019 ranged "from 7:58 a.m. to 11:54 p.m. or 1:38 a.m."

Due to some ailments of his first son, the baby had to visit the children's ear doctor repeatedly. Lucía "tried to make the appointments as late as possible" outside of her schedule, but even so, "she was forced on many occasions to have her father or grandmother take the baby to the specialist given that their lack of availability to work at any time motivated the anger" of the boss, "which ended in voices and serious lack of consideration and respect for the dignity of the worker", contemplate the proven facts.

During the pandemic, there was a clear example of the level of interference of the boss in Lucía's personal life and family care. The day that the Community of Madrid announced the closure of schools due to COVID, the boss "called the worker to find out what she was going to do with her son, which led her to make the decision to move the little boy to the home of their parents" in another province.

The harassment progressively worsened, points out the magistrate, and "culminated in an unbearable situation due to the birth of the second child, which led to the mental bankruptcy of the worker." On September 10, 2021, on the occasion of the worker's reincorporation after the second maternity, the boss called Lucía first thing in the morning and shouted: "Where are you? I have eaten a son, I am not going to eat two".

Faced with such situations, the worker began to record her superior's treatment of her, evidence that was collated by an expert and that has reflected the harassment in the proven facts of the case, through a long list of insults and disqualifications. "When you told me in March that you had become pregnant, I told you that it was not a good time, because we were losing money."

“It is a bad time to have a baby, you are out of the projects, the idea is not to fire you, also after an ERTE they cannot fire you,” he told Lucía, given that the worker was affected by a temporary regulation file of employment due to the pandemic. The sentence also records a labor fraud: the employee was immersed in ERTE of reduction of 40% and 50% of her working day but worked "more than 10 hours a day".

"We have been working for 14 years and [bebé], everything is reflected in the work and now you have two fucking babies, which is your fucking decision. That we respect her a thousand times, but life is about choices, I already told you, and nobody thinks of deciding to have a family and not invest to continue working, I had a baby and nobody in the company noticed it, "said the condemned woman. You alone are not worth me, the one who does not advance is you. Once you have made me red, two times in your fucking life you make me red again", collects the judicial resolution.

At the end of November of last year, Lucía's husband "in view of the situation of emotional breakdown, nerves and anxiety that culminates in continuous crying", transferred her to the hospital where the psychiatry service diagnosed her with "an adjustment disorder with limiting depressive symptoms. A pathology that has been extended over time to the present, without remission, according to the defense of the worker.

Webhelp and the board defended in court that there was no type of harassment, describing the employment relationship as "normal", with a "friendship and trust that allowed mutual insults". Webhelp tried to rely on two worker witnesses, a supplier and an employee of the firm, which the judge does not consider credible due to their economic and hierarchical dependence on the multinational.

The company also hid behind the legal process in which the worker did not promote the existing anti-harassment protocol, an idea that they reiterate to elDiario.es, something that Judge Olivas Díaz attributes at first to "loyalty" to her superior and then to the "fear". Lawyer Carlos de Frías underlines the fact that the company did not activate this once the judicial process uncovered all the conversations and insults uttered by the condemned board. "Given that the worker was on leave and with a judicial procedure about to take place, it was not possible for the external company that carried out the investigation of the facts to contact the worker to open an investigation," they respond to this medium in Webhelp Payment Services.

Sources from the multinational insist to elDiario.es that, "in relation to the issue of language, it has been shown by WhatsApps, emails and photos that work in cars that both employees used a type of communication that could be considered irregular, but that it was bidirectional ". The magistrate rejected the chat messages for not having been collated, nor respected the chain of custody, and warns that "the reproduction of the recordings, recognized otherwise, show an inadmissible aggressiveness in any area of ​​life, but especially reprehensible in the field of work".

Amaya Olivas Díaz, in fact, emphasizes the company itself as the guilty party for the violations of the worker's rights. "I need commercial support that you do not give me, this is what Axel and Bretan think, it is agreed," the directive told the victim. The magistrate points out that the first is the president of Webhelp Payment Solutions, while the second refers to the "VP Operations and director of the Spanish subsidiary."

The condemned boss also mentions "the company" on several occasions when she urges Lucía to reduce her workday: "You reduce your workday, your salary, you dedicate yourself to your babies, you don't spend money." "I need someone, but it's not me, it's the company."

For all these reasons, the magistrate concludes the existence of workplace harassment and a violation of the fundamental rights of the victim. Both the right to equality "by being discriminated against because of her status as a mother and therefore as a woman" and "the violation of the right to physical and moral integrity, causing a serious breach in the mental health of the worker and her dignity as a worker , mother and wife (art.15 CE)".

The violations of fundamental rights have been committed "directly" by the boss in question and "indolently by the company, knowing and consenting to these attitudes," judge Amaya Olivas Díaz establishes. The ruling thus condemns Webhelp to terminate the employment relationship by compensating the employee with more than 55,000 euros and, in addition, to pay compensation for damages of 80,000 euros jointly between the boss and the company.

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