I hope it's not too late if you read the answer because I am German and I can tell that the course of action really depends on culture.
First of all: It is harassment/bullying/mobbing (This is the official German term, a false anglicism. As the term is relevant for the German law and describes the practice in Germany, I will use it here). And a really vile one.
And it does not matter if she is Spanish, he is seaching for a victim which he can terrorize.
Remark: It would help to see the original mail.
The reaction from anglophone countries, especially USA, is not advisable in Germany for several reasons:
Sueing does not work
If something goes to court (which also takes a looong time and puts more stress on the victim), the fines are in the range of thousands of euros. You read that right. So essentially there is no penalty on firms to suppress mobbing.
Work laws work in both directions. For both the victim and the culprit it really takes long until a decision is met, so the danger rises enormously that other people get involved. And this can really get nasty. The mail
is sufficient reason to fire the culprit
immediately , but the management needs to know the offense in 14 days from the time of the attack. I do not like to say it, but the truth is that only in 20% of known cases the offender gets any penalty.
That is the situation of mobbing in Germany. It is strange that exactly in social jobs like banking and insurance, care and salespeople incidence is highest while in working jobs like farmer and truck driver incidence is lowest. So your situation is unfortunately very common.
The absolute most important thing to know is:
DOING NOTHING IS THE ABSOLUTELY WORST WAY TO ANSWER MOBBING !
Ever saw that a school bully stopped bullying because the victim simply
did nothing ? The longer the time, the more people are involved and this
gets so ugly that the management cannot do something for the victim because
it intervenes too late. The longer the time, the more time has the culprit
to try to influence people negatively. The longer the time, the more options
has the culprit to hide his maliciousness. The longer the time, the worse the condition of the victim afterwards.
- First find out what your current status in the work environment is. Think hard: Has something happened to indicate that something was already brewing and is your work climate bad ? Missing greetings ? You missed important meetings ? Are there nasty rumors ? Bad management ? Scapegoats ? In all this cases the chances for a positive solution for you are...not so good.
- If you think it is (partly) good, you need support. Choose a person who you consider reliable, experienced and friendly to you (choose wise. If not a colleague, someone who is in the business and has experience). Tell him/her what happened and see on his/her reaction what your options are. Genuinely horrified ? Very good. Angry like "again ?" You are not the first victim. Avoiding your eyes ? Uh oh. The problem I see is that the culprit wrote an email, normally mobbers try to avoid evidence like pest.
- I will now lay out the steps German law has thought out to tackle mobbing.
It is based on the decision of Landesarbeitsgericht Thüringen (one of the 3rd most important court for working law in German) from April 10th, 2001 reference number 5 Sa 403/2000. So every working place big enough should have several ombudsman for mobbing, people who act as arbitrator and contact person. This people can be contacted with a complaint. The victim can request that a meeting with both parties can happen to find a solution in a course of 14 days, on demand with the Betriebsrat. That's the theory believing that people can act as adults. If there is no agreement, a decision can be forced by all ombudsman which is binding for CEO and Betriebsrat.
- If this above is not available to you, the boss/Betriebsrat should now be contacted. And it is imperative that you need as much support as possible. Colleagues, friends, self-help groups, therapeuts. Once the culprit recognizes that the victim will not tolerate the behavior and that he has no support the mobbing stops (hopefully because he is fired). While it could be unfair and cause misjudgements, the American system with swift penalties at least minimizes the emotional damage because the longer it goes, the worse the results.
- Document everything what happens. Everything. Do not trust your memories, you need evidence if you need to get before a court.
I have searched for a list of Mobbingberatungsstellen and numbers, but was unsuccessfull until now. Google for the German term above in your specific state (Nordrhein-Westfalen, Bayern etc.).
@nvoight: You are wrong. I quote the relevant passage from the LAG Thüringen, February 15th 2011 Reference: 5 SA 102/2000 paragraph 5.
Das sogenannte Mobbing kann auch ohne Abmahnung und unabhängig davon, ob es in diesem Zusammenhang zu einer Störung des Betriebsfriedens gekommen ist, die außerordentliche Kündigung eines Arbeitsverhältnisses rechtfertigen, wenn dadurch das allgemeine Persönlichkeitsrecht, die Ehre oder die Gesundheit des Mobbingopfers in schwerwiegender Weise verletzt werden. Je intensiver das Mobbing erfolgt, um so schwerwiegender und nachhaltiger wird die Vertrauensgrundlage für die Fortführung des Arbeitsverhältnisses gestört. Muß der Mobbingtäter erkennen, daß das Mobbing zu einer Erkrankung des Opfers geführt hat und setzt dieser ungeachtet dessen das Mobbing fort, dann kann für eine auch nur vorübergehende Weiterbeschäftigung des Täters regelmäßig kein Raum mehr bestehen.
Translation (shortened): The so-called mobbing can be a reason for an extraordinarily termination of the contract without Abmahnung (written warning) and without disturbing the working environment (it is not necessary that the mobbing is brought to public attention. Extraordinary termination means that the culprit is fired, but with the standard termination time range). If the culprit continues the harassment after it is clear to him/her that the victim is emotionally harmed, immediate termination is the correct action.
So you are right that immeditate termination is not compulsory for the mail, but it is not ruled out and extraordinary termination is quite justified.
To the "It is all a joke": First of all, in Germany your own privacy is valued. You only accept intrusions from people you like if you are sick, not "normal" colleagues. Second, the thing came with email which is a medium you do not choose for a joke. Third, Spain has a high unemployment rate and is one of the south european countries which are together with Greece in deep economic trouble. It is a widespread belief in German population that Germany is the purser who holds them in the EU with billions and this caused hostility, so no German would dare to mention it in a mail without intending to hurt the receiver.