Common to all forms of bullying is an unresolved conflict in the workplace, in which a person is bullied in a targeted and systematic manner over a longer period. A bullying process does not necessarily proceed in a deteriorating fashion. A timely intervention can prevent an escalation and can stop the process.

„Bullying is a complex crisis-like/conflict-ridden process in the workplace, in which a person is subject to behaviour displayed by one or more other people systematically and periodically over a longer period that she/he experiences as offensive and discriminatory and that are intended to put her/him in an inferior position. If such a process continues without intervention, it will lead to sever damage to the working climate and negative consequences for those affected.“


... as someone affected

If you find yourself in such a hostile work environment, you should seek help in order to de-escalate the situation gradually. It is important not to give in or to take rash steps.

How to help yourself – What to do about bullying

  1. Recognize the problem
  2. Gather information
  3. Make use of help and support possibilities
    1. In-house support
    2. External support
    3. Seek professional counselling
  4. Increase your wellbeing, set goals

... as a colleague

Just like for all third parties, the important thing especially for colleagues of someone who is being bullied is: You can change the situation with moral courage, if you do not participate in the bullying and if you help to change the working climate towards being more cooperative. Everybody is part of the team, and everybody reinforces or weakens a negative work environment by her or his own behaviour.

Support from colleagues against bullying:

  1. Not ignoring hostile behaviour
  2. Offering support
  3. Sharing advice
    1. In-house support
    2. External support
  4. Counselling: Professional support

... as a supervisor

Supervisors have a greater responsibility, because of their duty of care to employees (cf. § 1157 (1) ABGB - General Civil Code). Do not hesitate to take action against bullying in a timely and effective manner in your role as supervisor.

Actions against bullying taken by supervisors:

  1. Information
    1. In-house support
    2. External support
  2. Prevention
  3. Timely intervention in bullying processes

Engaging in harassment or bullying, accepting harassment or bullying or giving instructions to engage in harassment and bullying by supervisors constitutes a gross neglect of duty and may result in legal penalties.

The relevant paragraphs of the following Acts also apply to universities

  • B-VG (Federal Constitution Act),
  • BDG (Public Service Act),
  • UG 02 (Universities Act 2002),
  • Arb VG (Labor Constitution Act),
  • AngG (Salaried Employees' Act),
  • VBG (Contract Staff Act),
  • ABGB (General Civil Code) and
  • B-GIBG (Equal Treatment Act)

According to the EU Directive on the burden of proof, the greater burden of proof does not lie with those affected by bullying.
Analogous to other conflict structures, prevention by and sufficient information from supervisors are recommended.
An overview and a description of the legal situation in Austria can be found in the compilation provided by Dr Hopf.

If you are intend to submit a formal complaint, you can contact the University Office at TU Wien as the body representing TU Wien as an employer.
It can

  • provide legal information,
  • refer you to mediation specialists,
  • direct the complaint proceedings.


In der Hauptbibliothek der TUW findet sich eine Reihe nützlicher Bücher zu den Themen von Mobbing, Mediation, Konfliktmanagement, Krisenbewältigung usw.

Alle Bücher der Hauptbibliothek , opens an external URL in a new windowkönnen von den Angehörigen der TU Wien kostenlos entlehnt werden.