Handling of suspected cases of discrimination, harassment, offensive treatment or negative influence of the educational environment through violations

Current provisions 

In the Discrimination Act, the terms discrimination and harassment is used, while in AFS 2015:4 [Organisational and social work environment], the term offensive treatment is used. The legislation distinguishes between harassment which relates to the grounds for discrimination that are regulated in the Discrimination Act and other violations that are regulated in the Work Environment Act. According to AFS 2015:4, Section 3, the rules concerning offensive treatment does not apply to students, which is why this term cannot be used for situations where students are violated in other ways than what is stated in the Discrimination Act. At the University of Borås, the term “negative influence on the educational environment” is therefore used instead of “offensive treatment” in these situations.

Investigative obligation

Harassment/sexual harassment

Note that if the university as an educational organiser or employer has become aware that a student or an employee have been harassed/sexually harassed according to the Discrimination Act, the university has a duty to investigate the circumstances of the event and, in some cases, take the measures that could reasonably be needed to prevent harassment in the future. These events will be investigated in accordance with applicable administrative procedures in order to ensure the rule of law.

Offensive treatment

In cases of offensive treatment according to AFS 2015:4, the employer will have procedures in place for how to deal with offensive treatment, and according to the Swedish Work Environment Authority’s provisions on systematic work environment management, the employer will investigate causes for offensive treatment, so that risks of illness may be prevented in the future. This administrative procedure specifies how cases concerning offensive treatment are formally handled.

Negative influence on educational environment

When a student’s educational environment is at risk of being negatively affected because of, for example, bullying without connection to discrimination/harassment according to Discrimination Act, the university has the right to deal with the situation in accordance with the Work Environment Act and the Higher Education Ordinance’s regulations concerning study environment. In the case of a more common event that can be fixed without an investigation, no official case needs to be set up. The matter can then be handled by the head of activities in a way they see fit in order to secure a good study environment. In the case of a more complex, serious event or if a case involves a complaint against an university employee or student, an official case will always be opened. This is to guarantee the rule of law for those involved in the complaint.

Prohibition against retaliation

According to the Discrimination Act, Chapter 2, Section 18, an employer is not allowed to punish an employee for:

  • the employee reporting or complaining that the employer has not followed the Discrimination Act
  • the employee participating in an investigation according to the law (Chapter 2, Section 18)
  • rejecting or going along with the employer’s harassment or sexual harassment.

The handling of cases of suspected discrimination, harassment, offensive treatment or negative influence on the study environment will be handled according to the adopted administrative procedure.