• Column
  • Harassment
  • What is workplace moral harassment? The risks of leaving damage unattended, specific examples, and solutions.

What is workplace moral harassment? The risks of leaving damage unattended, specific examples, and solutions.

Moral harassment (moraharassment) is one of the most difficult types of harassment to define and is considered to be less visible. For this reason, there are many cases in which people become perpetrators or victims without being aware of it, and in many cases, it is discovered when they take a leave of absence or resign from their jobs.

To prevent such situations, companies need to take proactive measures and protect the working environment of their employees. This article therefore describes the characteristics and specific examples of moral harassment that occur in the workplace, as well as measures to prevent moral harassment.


Characteristics of Moral Harassment Occurring in the Workplace


Moral harassment is a social problem that occurs in a variety of places, including within the workplace, at home, and at school. First, let's review the characteristics of workplace moraharassment and the risks of leaving damage untreated.

What is workplace harassment?

The term "moral harassment" is a combination of the words "morality," meaning ethics, and "harassment," meaning harassment or bullying.

Moral harassment occurring in the workplace refers to the act of inflicting emotional distress on another person by attitude or words in the workplace, causing that person to quit his or her job, or deteriorating the working environment.

The characteristic feature of moral harassment is that anyone can be a victim or a perpetrator, regardless of whether or not there is a hierarchical relationship. There are many cases where people have become perpetrators of moral harassment without being aware of it.

The Risk of Leaving Workplace Moral Harassment Unchecked

If preventive measures are not taken despite the occurrence of moral harassment, the victim's psychological stress may increase and he/she may suffer from mental illness. Specifically, depression, psychosomatic disorders, adjustment disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may develop, leading to leave of absence or retirement.

A company or employer that neglects to take into consideration the workplace environment may be in breach of its obligation to take into consideration the workplace environment, and may be held liable for damages or other claims. There is also a risk of a decline in sales, an increase in job leavers, and a shortage of human resources due to the damage to the company's image.
There have been cases in which the perpetrators of moral harassment have been charged with crimes such as insult and defamation.

Back to Table of Contents

Specific Examples of Moral Harassment in the Workplace and How to Deal with It


When workplace moral harassment becomes the norm, it can lead to a decline in productivity and motivation, as well as an exodus of human resources. If a suspected case is reported, promptly identify the cause and take countermeasures.

Specific Examples of Moral Harassment in the Workplace

Attacks that cause emotional distress are typical examples of workplace moral harassment. Specific examples include denigration of appearance and human qualities, bad-mouthing of family members, prolonged reprimands, imposition of personal chores, unfair personnel evaluations, and suggestions of demotion or restructuring.

Other actions that disconnect from relationships or isolate a particular employee also fall under the category of moral harassment. Typical examples include removing an employee from work without explanation, spreading unfavorable rumors, ignoring the employee, and excluding the employee from company events.

Excessive interference with private matters is also considered harassment. Examples include persistent contact with employees on vacations and vacations, prying into the private affairs of those who do not want to be involved, and telling others about private matters.

What to do if you suspect workplace moral harassment

When a case of suspected workplace harassment occurs, the basic rule is to deal with it through a consultation service that ensures privacy and is led by an industrial physician or other specialist.

Unlike power harassment and sexual harassment, moral harassment has no clear definition and is difficult to determine. It is necessary to conduct hearings not only with the victim but also with the perpetrator and third parties to confirm the facts.
In such cases, it is easier to confirm the facts if there is still evidence of the recorded harassing behavior. It is effective if there are still texts of e-mails and chats, IC recorder recordings, and testimonies from colleagues.

If it is difficult to resolve the issue internally, it is recommended that you consider consulting an outside organization. If you have a law firm or other legal advisor, contact them promptly and ask them to respond to your request.

Back to Table of Contents

How to Resolve Workplace Moral Harassment Issues


Finally, this section explains where to consult and what to do about workplace harassment problems.
Power harassment policies became mandatory for large companies on June 1, 2020, and for small and medium-sized companies on April 1, 2022.

Since there are cases where moral harassment can lead to power harassment, create a workplace environment where workers can work with peace of mind through the formulation of a disciplinary system and the development of internal systems.

Main sources of consultation for workplace harassment issues

Minnano Hanzoku 110 (National Human Rights Consultation Dial)

Minnano Hanri Hombun 110 is a telephone service that provides consultation on human rights issues. Consultation regarding various types of harassment, discrimination, abuse, etc. is available. The telephone number is 0570-003-110. When you call, you will be connected to the Legal Affairs Bureau or District Legal Affairs Bureau that has jurisdiction over your area.

If the counselor wishes, he or she can be heard directly at the counter. If a human rights violation is recognized from the content of the consultation, they will initiate a remedy procedure.

Human Rights 110 for Everyone<br class="br-trp" />

General Labor Consultation Corner

The General Labor Consultation Corner is a consultation service provided by the Labor Standards Inspection Offices and Labor Bureaus, and specializes in labor issues, including moral harassment. The advantage of these centers is that they are located in each prefecture and are free of charge and do not require an appointment, making it easy to consult with them.

General Labor Consultation Corner<br class="br-trp" />

solution support

Kaiketsu Support is a service in which private businesses certified by the government provide dispute resolution support. Specifically, organizations such as judicial scrivener associations and administrative scrivener associations are accredited in each region to handle everything from workplace disputes to familiar issues such as inheritance and divorce.

solution support<br class="br-trp" />

Houterasu (Japan Legal Support Center)

Houterasu is a consultation service established by the government. In addition to moral harassment, all kinds of legal problems, both civil and criminal, such as unpaid wages and debts, can be consulted. Depending on the nature of the consultation, Houterasu also provides referrals to attorneys and provides financial support.

legal terrace<br class="br-trp" />

Workplace Moral Harassment Prevention

Clarification of Company Policies

To prevent workplace moral harassment, it is important for companies to make it clear that they will not tolerate moral harassment. Specifically, the company should clearly state its policy against moral harassment in its employment regulations and collective labor agreement, and work to inform and educate employees about it.

Because moral harassment can occur regardless of rank and gender, it should not be limited to managers and leaders, but should be communicated to all employees. It is also advisable to establish disciplinary rules for perpetrators.

Establishment of a consultation service

It is also effective to set up a consultation service as a measure to prevent harassment and make it known to workers. Create posters with information on how to use the service and cooperate with the labor union so that employees who have concerns can consult with the service at an early stage.

In order to promote the active use of this service, it is also required to protect the privacy of the consultants and to inform them that they will not be treated unfairly because of the fact that they have consulted with us.

Developing an internal investigation system

Anti-harassment measures include establishing an internal investigation system in case a problem arises. Prompt fact-finding upon receipt of a complaint, disciplinary action against the harasser, and measures to prevent recurrence will ensure that employees can work with peace of mind.

Conduct harassment training

Conducting harassment training is an effective way to prevent workplace harassment. It is possible to disseminate a company's stance on harassment within the company, and repeated training can lead to the acquisition of correct knowledge of harassment and early detection of problems.

There are two main ways to conduct harassment training: in-house or outsourced. e-learning systems are recommended because they allow you to optimize the training content for your company and reduce costs compared to outsourcing.

Back to Table of Contents

Protect your employees' working environment by taking measures to prevent workplace moral harassment.

Many companies understand the importance of taking measures against harassment, including moral harassment, but have been slow to take action. This is an opportunity to take action and protect a safe and secure working environment for your employees.

Please use the harassment training contents of "learningBOX ON" when conducting in-house training on harassment.

learningBOX is a cloud-based elearning platform and you can easily build training courses online.
Created content will be delivered to employees and you can track their learning progress.

In addition to the flexible content creation, personalized learning will boost each employee's understanding and knowledge by customizable settings. 

There will be something you can do to improve your work environment.

▼You may also like:

thumbnail (i.e. miniature image)

Impact on the Workplace

Harassment refers to annoying behavior such as harassment or bullying of a person. It does not matter whether the harasser has malicious intent or not, if the harassed person feels mentally uncomfortable, it constitutes harassment.

Back to Table of Contents Back to Article List
How can we help you?