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He said, she said, and the company said no

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Legal news
calendar 13 November 2022
globus Norway

When an employee’s claim of sexual harassment cannot be proved, it is natural to question if the company has upheld its preventive and reactionary responsibilities. In response to a company’s conclusion that sexual harassment could not be proved, the Norwegian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal found that the company had upheld the requirements.

A facility manager with customer and personnel responsibilities initiated a romantic relationship with a subordinate colleague. The employee informed his manager, and the manager relocated the colleague so the couple would not work together. Shortly after this, the relationship ended, and the employee notified the company that she had sexually harassed him.

The employee and his wife claimed that the colleague had repeatedly appeared outside their home. Upon the company’s investigation of the matter, it became clear that the employee and the colleague told two different stories. As none of the other colleagues could confirm the employee’s version, the company concluded that sexual harassment had not been proven. Not content with how the company handled the situation, the employee complained to the Norwegian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal.

No sexual harassment on the company’s watch

The company had preventative measures and reacted once the employee claimed he had been sexually harassed. On that basis, the tribunal concluded that the company had fulfilled its responsibilities.

It was proven that internal whistleblowing routines and ethical guidelines were available for all employees on the intranet. In addition, the company had yearly interviews with all employees to map any bullying and harassment.

Actions to stop any sexual harassment had been taken quickly. Most importantly, the company upheld the colleague’s relocation to another workplace, and her new manager was instructed to notify of any sexual harassment. In addition, the employee had been offered contact with occupational health services, and numerous conversations took place between him and the company.

IUNO’s opinion

It is the company’s responsibility to implement preventive measures and to stop sexual harassment when this is claimed to have taken place. If an employee claims that sexual harassment has taken place, the company must perform an objective investigation. As this case shows, the negative conclusion of an investigations does not mean that the company has failed its responsibilities.

We have previously written about companies’ responsibilities in terms of sexual harassment here. Other than a requirement for internal whistleblowing routines, there are no requirements as to what preventive measures and actions for sexual harassment companies must implement. IUNO recommends that measures are discussed with the employee representatives and frequently reviewed.

[The Norwegian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal’s decision 2022/681 of 18 October 2022]

A facility manager with customer and personnel responsibilities initiated a romantic relationship with a subordinate colleague. The employee informed his manager, and the manager relocated the colleague so the couple would not work together. Shortly after this, the relationship ended, and the employee notified the company that she had sexually harassed him.

The employee and his wife claimed that the colleague had repeatedly appeared outside their home. Upon the company’s investigation of the matter, it became clear that the employee and the colleague told two different stories. As none of the other colleagues could confirm the employee’s version, the company concluded that sexual harassment had not been proven. Not content with how the company handled the situation, the employee complained to the Norwegian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal.

No sexual harassment on the company’s watch

The company had preventative measures and reacted once the employee claimed he had been sexually harassed. On that basis, the tribunal concluded that the company had fulfilled its responsibilities.

It was proven that internal whistleblowing routines and ethical guidelines were available for all employees on the intranet. In addition, the company had yearly interviews with all employees to map any bullying and harassment.

Actions to stop any sexual harassment had been taken quickly. Most importantly, the company upheld the colleague’s relocation to another workplace, and her new manager was instructed to notify of any sexual harassment. In addition, the employee had been offered contact with occupational health services, and numerous conversations took place between him and the company.

IUNO’s opinion

It is the company’s responsibility to implement preventive measures and to stop sexual harassment when this is claimed to have taken place. If an employee claims that sexual harassment has taken place, the company must perform an objective investigation. As this case shows, the negative conclusion of an investigations does not mean that the company has failed its responsibilities.

We have previously written about companies’ responsibilities in terms of sexual harassment here. Other than a requirement for internal whistleblowing routines, there are no requirements as to what preventive measures and actions for sexual harassment companies must implement. IUNO recommends that measures are discussed with the employee representatives and frequently reviewed.

[The Norwegian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal’s decision 2022/681 of 18 October 2022]

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Anders

Etgen Reitz

Partner

Sofie

Aurora Braut Bache

Senior associate

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The team

Akina

Ørum Masaki

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Alexandra

Jensen

Legal Advisor

Amalie

Starup Poulsen

Legal Advisor

Anders

Etgen Reitz

Partner

Cecillie

Groth Henriksen

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Emma

Sandner

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Johan

Gustav Dein

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Julie

Meyer

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Kirsten

Astrup

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Sofie

Aurora Braut Bache

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Søren

Hessellund Klausen

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