We will strive actively to fulfil the requirements regarding equality of treatment. All staff and students will receive information about the legislation in force against discrimination. Information material on the subject is to be made available, also stating where to turn in case of harassment, offensive conduct or discrimination. The university will develop support functions for anyone experiencing harassment, offensive conduct or discrimination. Employees will be offered competence enhancement and support to attend seminars and courses in these areas. The university will offer students and employees a good psychosocial work environment, which does not encourage any forms of discrimination, harassment or offensive conduct.
(Equal Treatment Policy of the University of Gothenburg, 2007-2010.)
The Discrimination Act (2008:567) came into force on 1 January 2009. The purpose of the Act is to combat discrimination and in other ways to promote equal rights and opportunities regardless of sex, transgender identity or expression, ethnicity, religion or other belief, disability, sexual orientation or age.
The Discrimination Act covers ten aspects of society, two of which, education and working life, are relevant in relation to the activities of the university. The Act applies to applicants for employment, employees, and applicants for education, as well as all those who take part in courses at the university.
The Act in its entirety can be downloaded from the website of the Swedish Equality Ombudsman.
The act defines the relevant terms as follows:
Sex: that someone is a woman or a man.
Transgender identity or expression: that someone does not identify herself or himself as a woman or a man or expresses by their manner of dressing or in some other way that they belong to another sex.
Ethnicity: national or ethnic origin, skin colour or other similar circumstance.
Disability: permanent physical, mental or intellectual limitation of a person’s functional capacity that existed at birth as a consequence of injury or illness, has arisen since then or can be expected to arise.
Sexual orientation: homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual orientation.
Age: length of life to date.
A person who intends to change or has changed the sex they belong to is also covered by sex as a grounds of discrimination.
Direct discrimination can be summarized as meaning that the same situations are treated differently. This would cover an individual being disadvantaged by being treated less favourably than someone else is treated, has been treated or would have been treated in a comparable situation, if this disadvantaging is associated with sex, transgender identity or expression, ethnicity, religion or other belief, disability, sexual orientation or age.
Indirect discrimination means that someone is disadvantaged by the application of a provision, a criterion or a procedure that appears neutral but that may put people of a certain sex, a certain transgender identity or expression, a certain ethnicity, a certain religion or other belief, a certain disability, a certain sexual orientation or a certain age at a particular disadvantage, unless the provision, criterion or procedure has a legitimate purpose and the means that are used are appropriate and necessary to achieve that purpose. This means, for example, that an employer may not pose general requirements to job applicants or employees that disadvantage people with disabilities. The exception would be if those particular requirements are prerequisites for being able to carry out the job.
Harassment is defined here as conduct that violates a person’s dignity and that is associated with one of the grounds of discrimination. Examples of harassment include offensive or ridiculing comments and jokes or other behaviour experienced as insulting by an individual. It is the opinion of the individual in question that determines whether or not any behaviour is considered insulting.
Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature that violates the dignity of the employee at work or the student in his or her studies.
The Discrimination Act also contains a prohibition against giving instructions to a subordinate to discriminate.
Subjecting someone who has reported discrimination to reprisals, in other words taking revenge on someone who has reported discrimination, is also prohibited in accordance with the Act.
An ordinance issued by the Swedish National Board of Occupational Safety and Health, 1993:17, defines victimization, or insulting differential treatment as “recurrent reprehensible or distinctly negative actions which are directed against individual employees in an offensive manner and can result in those employees being placed outside the workplace community.”
These phenomena are more commonly referred to as adult bullying, psychological violence, social rejection or harassment and have become increasingly prevalent as workplace problems.
In order to be covered by the Discrimination Act, the disadvantaging or victimization must be linked to one of the grounds for discrimination. In other cases the relevant pieces of legislation for both employees and students are the Work Environment Act and the Work Environment Regulation.
However, with regard to complex problems associated with harassment, various Acts, ordinances and agreements may all be applicable in different respects. Information concerning work environment efforts being pursued at the University of Gothenburg, with links to the relevant pieces of legislation, regulations and ordinances may be found on the University of Gothenburg website under the heading “Preventive health and safety work”.
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Gothenburg has the ultimate responsibility at the University for ensuring that the laws are conformed with. The Head of Administration, the deans, the chief librarian, department heads and the equivalent have responsibility at the respective faculty and department levels or the equivalent. It is their responsibility to perform an investigation at their respective levels as soon as any possible problem of a nature relating to discrimination comes to their attention. However, it goes without saying that all employees are responsible for conforming with the laws. If, in your capacity as an employee of the University, you become aware that a student is experiencing a situation in which he or she has been discriminated against or harassed, you are obligated report it to your immediate supervisory, who is responsible for seeing to it that the matter is investigated.
It is the responsibility of every department or the equivalent to appoint a local liaison officer for matters relating to discrimination and harassment.
The University of Gothenburg recommends that, wherever possible, cases be investigated and dealt with at the level where the problem arises. The primary objective is to bring the offensive behaviour to an end as quickly as possible.
Initially, a student or employee may contact his or her head of department or the equivalent. A student may also turn to any other representative of the university, such as the director of studies, the equality representative, or a teacher. If, for any reason, it is not appropriate to contact a representative of the department or the like, it is also possible to contact someone at the next higher level in the organisation, such as the dean.
When an investigation is initiated, it is important that the person filing the report be informed of his or her rights, and of the routines followed for investigations. Investigations should be carried out promptly, discretely, and impartially. The procedure must also be documented, and the matter followed up.
It is up to the individual who makes the report to decide whether to file the report with the department or the faculty administration, or to address it to the Office of the Vice Chancellor. Possible reasons for filing the report with the Office of the Vice Chancellor include, situations in which the individual involved feels that it is necessary to do so because of the circumstances, or if, for any other reason, it is inappropriate to deal with the matter at the level at which it arose.
Matters reported to the Office of the Vice Chancellor will be dealt with by an administrator at the University’s central administration. The person filing the report is to receive notification that the report has been received by the Office, which administrator will be dealing with it, the file number and, if possible, approximately how long the investigation is expected to take. The decision and what measures are to be taken concerning the matter will rest with the Vice Chancellor, who can choose to refer harassment matters on for examination by the Human Resources Board (for employees) or the Disciplinary Board (for students).
Another option for both students and employees is to file a report concerning discrimination directly with the Swedish Equality Ombudsman (“Diskrimineringsombudsmannen” or “DO”, www.do.se). When this procedure is followed, the University is given the opportunity to make a statement with regard to the report and express an opinion on the matter.
Postal address: The Equality Ombudsman, Box 3686, 103 59 Stockholm.
Street address: Torsgatan 11, Stockholm, email email@example.com
Telephone switchboard: +46 (0)8120 20 700, Fax +46 (0)8120 20 800.
The University of Gothenburg has resource officers whose job it is to carry out preventive work in relation to discrimination and harassment, and who offer training, information and counselling to both employees and students. The primary liaison officer at the University of Gothenburg is the Secretary for Equal opportunities: Pia Götebo Johannesson,
telephone: +46(0)31 786 5348, firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are also resources for students with disabilities who require special support to carry out their studies. Please contact the coordinator for students with disabilities: Lena Borg Melldahl, telephone: +46(0)31 786 10 40 Lena.email@example.com.
Employees of the University of Gothenburg can also turn to their trade union for advice or support. The role of the union in discrimination disputes is to represent its members. If a job applicant or an employee is a union member, that trade union has the right to represent him or her in such a dispute. Links to the relevant trade unions:
The University’s occupational health service strives, through preventive measures, to prevent the risk of employees developing ill health or becoming involved in workplace accidents. The service also offers rehabilitation with a view to avoiding long-term sicklisting, crisis management, and training programmes.
The University’s occupational health service is PREVIA
Their offices are at:
Postgatan 28, 6th floor (in the Nordstan complex)
Telephone: +46(0)31 6157 00
Students can turn to their student union for advice or support in their contacts with the University. All contact information regarding the student unions at the University of Gothenburg can be found at: www.gus.gu.se.
The student unions of the University of Gothenburg (GUS): telephone: +46(0)31 786 5640, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The student health service, Akademihälsan, serves students at both the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology, and is roughly the student equivalent of the occupational health service for employees. Students may turn to the service for individual crisis support, discussions in relation to their study situation, etc.
Street address: Kaserntorget 11 B, Göteborg, 6th floor.
Postal address: Kungsgatan 11, 411 19 Göteborg.
Telephone: +46(0)3110 69 70, fax +46(0)31 20 74 27.