Guide on discrimination, harassment and victimisation
- What are discrimination, harassment and victimisation?
- The discrimination act and the seven grounds for discrimination
- Discrimination and harassment: examples
- Victimisation: examples
- Who is responsible and where do you turn for help?
- Many ways to get help
The Discrimination Act covers six different forms of discrimination:
- direct discrimination
- indirect discrimination
- inadequate accessibility
- sexual harassment
- instructions to discriminate
In order to invoke the Discrimination Act, the incident must be linked to one of the seven grounds for discrimination. The seven grounds for discrimination prohibited by the Act are:
- transgender identity or expression
- religion or other belief
- functional disability
- sexual orientation
Below is a brief summary of the Discrimination Act:
Direct discrimination is when someone is disadvantaged by being treated less favourably than someone else in a comparable situation, if this disadvantaging is associated with any of the seven grounds for discrimination. An example is when an examiner takes a candidate’s gender into account in an examination.
Indirect discrimination is when someone is disadvantaged by the application of a provision, criterion or procedure that appears neutral but that may put certain people at a particular disadvantage. An example of indirect discrimination would be if the University set particular requirements for prior knowledge which are not relevant to the study programme and that exclude people covered by the grounds for discrimination.
Inadequate accessibility is when a person with a disability is disadvantaged compared to a person without this disability, through a failure on the part of the organisation to take reasonable measures to address this. Examples of inadequate accessibility are when high thresholds or other differences in floor level prevent someone from accessing a lecture hall or when there is no hearing loop in the lecture hall.
Harassment is behaviour which offends someone’s dignity and which is connected to one of the seven grounds for discrimination. An example of such behaviour is when a lecturer or a fellow student says something derogatory to a student based on the student’s religion or disability, no matter if it’s done orally or digital.
Sexual harassment is behaviour of a sexual nature which offends someone’s dignity.
Instructions to discriminate take place when a person in a position of responsibility gives orders or instructions to discriminate against someone in the ways covered in the paragraphs above.
Victimisation means words or deeds which are perceived as offensive and which are usually seen as completely incomprehensible and unfair by the person or people subjected to them. The words and actions may result in the victim being excluded from the social group. An example of victimisation is when students in a teamwork exclude a certain student from their meetings. Another example is if someone is calling a person inappropriate names.
More on discrimination, harassment and victimisation
If you want to read more about discrimination, harassment and victimisation, you can consult the websites of the government agencies the Equality Ombudsman and the Swedish Work Environment Authority
The vice-chancellor of Lund University has overall responsibility for the work environment. The direct responsibility is delegated to the faculties’ deans (the dean is head of the faculty) and heads of department. In addition, all employees and students at Lund University have a responsibility to contribute to a good work environment for both employees and students.
Don’t wait to ask for help
You have always the right to help, advice and support if you feel discriminated against, harassed or offended. Remember that the situation cannot be further dealt with or solved if it has not even been brought to the attention of those responsible. As a student, you are to feel it is safe to take contact if you experience being discriminated against, harassed or victimised.
There are many different ways to get help:
A first step can be to speak to someone you trust so that you can gain perspective on what happened. There may be a course representative on your study programme who can help you to get in touch with the student council at the department. You are always welcome to contact the various study advisors at the faculty. You can also turn directly to the Students’ Union of the Faculty of Social Sciences, who know how one can pursue these issues. The Student Health Centre, the student health and safety representatives and the student representative are also potential contacts through whom you can apply for help from us.
In certain cases, a formal complaint may be appropriate. This can be done by the person who has been subjected to the behaviour, but the person at the University who has become aware of the events is also to contact the head of department, who is obliged to investigate the circumstances of the alleged harassment promptly and impartially.
An investigation which is neutral and in which both sides are heard is to be initiated. If the department does not manage to investigate, there are other units to help out, such as the Legal Services office in the University administration. Please note that it is not possible to maintain anonymity, but the personal integrity of those involved must be taken into account as much as possible.
If the events do not concern harassment but rather victimisation, the investigation falls outside the Discrimination Act. But the investigation can proceed as it would in the case of harassment. A report cannot be filed more than two years after the event.
There is a clear investigative procedure
The important thing to remember from this guide is that there are several units to contact and dare to go to for help and support if you feel that your complaints have not been heard or you have been met with comments such as “that’s just how it is” or “this is how things are around here, that’s what we’ve always said”.
Help is avaliable - don't wait to ask for it!