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Victimisation and harassment

Lund University does not accept victimisation and harassment. As an employee, if you are subjected to offensive behaviour, or if you witness what you perceive to be offensive behaviour, read this page for advice as to what you can do.

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What are victimisation and harassment?


Victimisation is a collective term for several types of unacceptable behaviour.

Victimisation refers to “Actions directed against one or more employees in an abusive manner, which could lead to ill health or their being placed outside the community of the workplace”. The Swedish Work Environment Authority’s Organisational and Social Work Environment (AFS 2015:4) provisions describes the employer’s responsibility for handling victimisation.

All employers are subject to the provisions. Lund University’s Work Environment Policy specifically states that victimisation, harassment or sexual harassment is not accepted within the organisation.

Some examples of what victimisation could be:

  • denying someone a greeting
  • calling someone by a nickname
  • excluding someone from the social group
  • excluding someone from meetings
  • unjustly accusing someone
  • personally shaming someone
  • calling someone offensive names in front of others

Other actions and events could also be a form of victimisation. It all depends on the circumstances. What is ok with one person might be offensive to another.

Harassment and sexual harassment

Harassment and sexual harassment are two forms of discrimination.

Harassment is conduct that violates a person’s dignity and is associated with one of the seven grounds on which discrimination occurs: gender, transgender identity or expression, ethnicity, religion or other belief, disability, sexual orientation and age. It can take the form of ridiculing or belittling generalisations, for example.

Sexual harassment is conduct of a sexual nature that offends someone’s dignity. It can take the form of comments and words, groping or indiscreet stares. Unwelcome compliments, invitations and innuendos can also constitute sexual harassment.

It is the person exposed to the behaviour who determines what is unwanted, unwelcome or offensive. What a person experience as unwanted, unwelcome or offensive, might not correspond to what the legislation considers as harassment or sexual harassment. This can be clarified in an investigation. 

How to report victimisation or harassment

As an employee, if you feel you have been, or have witnessed someone else being, subjected to victimisation or harassment, you can report the incident to your manager. If this is not possible, you can contact the next level of management, such as the dean or equivalent.

Your manager (or your manager’s manager according to the delegation rules) is obliged to start an investigation into the incident.

You can also report victimisation through Lund University’s incident report procedure.

Read more about reporting occupational injuries and incidents

Filing an anonymous report

If you wish to file an anonymous report, you can do so. In that case, the manager can work preventively and generally with measures to prevent similar incidents in the future.

It is not possible for the University to investigate a matter against an accused person if the report is anonymous. The accused has the right to get the accusations presented to them, so that they can defend themselves. 

What happens when you report

Your manager will start an investigation in which you are given the opportunity to recount what happened, who was involved and your experience of it. The investigator, who may be your manager or a person appointed by them, will also speak with the perceived perpetrator, as well as with any other people who have something important to contribute to the investigation.

The investigations can vary in size and complexity, depending on what has happened. Sometimes it is enough to talk to the two parties, but sometimes the investigation will take a lot more time and effort. It all depends on what has happened and how complex the situation is. An investigation can take a few weeks or months to conclude. 

The aim of the investigation is to clarify the course of events, but also, if possible, to determine whether the incident falls within the framework of the legislative definitions of harassment, sexual harassment and victimisation. The investigation should give the manager enough information to put in measures in place to put a stop the victimisation/harassment, and make sure it does not happen again.

It is important to know that this type of investigation is not a police investigation. It will not result in punishments. The employer has a responsibility to put in measures to create a good work environment, which usually means dialogue and mediation

Your manager is responsible for ensuring that the victimisation or harassment ceases and is to work to prevent it happening again.

Prohibition against reprisals

If you have reported discrimination or pointed out that your employer is breaking the legislation in the Discrimination Act, you are protected against punishment in the form of reprisals. This protection also applies to someone collaborating in an investigation pursuant to the Discrimination Act or to someone who has rejected or given in to harassment or sexual harassment.

Reprisals might take the form of employment not being extended, a low salary increase, or being given too much or too little to do at work, for example.

What support is available?

Contact your union representative or the health and safety representative for support and advice during the investigation.

You can also contact the Occupational Health Service for consultation, for example.

Occupational Health Service