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Harassment and inappropriate treatment

Harassment is an act that is unilateral in nature and unwilling to the harassed person. Harassment and inappropriate treatment are prohibited by the Health and Safety at Work Act. The Equality Act prohibits harassment on the grounds of sexual and gender. Employers have a duty to prevent harassment and must take the necessary steps to investigate and eliminate harassment as soon as they become aware of it.

What is inappropriate treatment?

Misconduct is harassment, bullying and other inappropriate behaviour in the workplace. It can be committed by any member of the workplace, either alone or in association with others. Both employees and managers can be the target.

It can take the form of bullying, neglect, belittling or ignoring, isolation, denigration, intimidation, overstepping of authority or humiliating treatment, unilateral changes to agreed terms and conditions, discrimination or favouritism. However, acts within the employer's authority, normal decision-making in the workplace or the handling of related problems between members of the work community do not constitute discriminatory treatment. Nor is referring an employee to occupational health care.

Inappropriate treatment may also constitute harassment. Harassment is defined in the Occupational Safety and Health Act as inappropriate treatment that may endanger or harm the safety or health of an individual.

Harassment includes, for example, repeated threats, intimidation, malicious and suggestive messages, derogatory and mocking language, constant unjustified criticism and obstruction of work, questioning of reputation or status, isolation from the work community and sexual harassment.

Harassment may also involve abuse of management authority. This can include, for example, repeated unjustified interference in work, unjustified changes to the quality or quantity of work, unlawful changes to agreed working conditions, inappropriate use of management authority and humiliating orders.

Have you been treated inappropriately at work?

If you have experienced discrimination at work, ask your employer for an explanation. If it is harassment, ask your supervisor to intervene. The health and safety representative and the shop steward are there to support you. If the matter remains unresolved, you can contact the union, the Regional State Administrative Agency, the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman or the Equality Ombudsman to have the matter resolved.

If you have been the victim of harassment, ask your line manager to intervene immediately.
If necessary, you can get support from your shop steward, the health and safety officer or the occupational health service.
If the harassment involves a suspected crime or health risk, contact the police and the occupational health service.