Sexual harassment at the workplace
I am a store manager in Sweden and I was sexually harassed by my previous CEO via text and email. Could you please tell me what my rights are?
Thank you for turning to Lawline with your inquiry.
Since I do not know the nature of the texts and emails that you refer to, I can not determine whether they constitute sexual harassment in legal terms. I will however try to explain why it could be illegal, and what you can do about it.
Firstly, this could be a matter of criminal law, and I therefore advice you to report this to the police if you think it is necessary. If you go to a police station, they will receive your report, investigate the matter and if possible prosecute the person who did this. If this person is convicted for a crime, you could sue for compensation. You can do this within the same process as the criminal process. If the person is not convicted, for instance if the police or prosecutor drops the case, you could contact one of our legal advisors via this link and have them determine whether you have a case or not.
Secondly, whether you do report this to the police or not, it is also a matter of labor law.
A behavior of sexual nature that violates one’s dignity is sexual harassment, and sexual harassment constitutes a form of discrimination according to the 1st chapter 4 §, of the Discrimination Act.
An employer’s discrimination of employees is prohibited, and a CEO is typically to be equated to the employer, 2nd ch. 1 §.
An employer who breaches that prohibition is liable to pay “Diskrimineringsersättning”, compensation for discrimination, 5th ch. 1 §. That compensation will be determined based on any economic loss you have suffered, and on the law’s purpose of preventing discrimination. Since I do not know all the circumstances and the nature of the sexual harassment, I can not determine what would be a reasonable claim.
This claim would be directed towards your employer which I presume is a company that you work for, not the previous CEO.
If you inform your employer about the events, they are obligated to investigate the events and to take measures against such behavior. Not fulfilling this obligation could also in itself be cause for compensation, 2nd ch. 3 §.
I understand that it might seem problematic to pursue a case against your current(?) employer, but I assure you that they are in no position to hold it against you in terms of future promotions etc. That in itself could also constitute a breach of the prohibition of reprisals against employees, 2nd ch. 18 §.
If you are a member of a labor organisation and/or a union, I advise you to immediately seek their support. They can offer you legal assistance, and they may represent you in court.
You may also refer your case to the Diskrimineringsombudsman, a public advocate, who among other measures, may represent you in court. You can refer your case to the Diskrimineringsombudsman by applying at its website.
If you are in need of further legal counsel in this matter, you can book an appointment with one of our practitioners via this link.
If you need me to clarify anything or if you have further questions, please use the comment section below.