There are various organisations and other types of bodies that you can contact about discrimination or disfavourable treatment of persons on parental leave. Victims of discrimination can bring actions on their own behalf in court. You can also contact a localanti-discrimination bureau or your union for help and advice. In this section we also provide information about explain who you can contact regarding certain matters that are not covered by the Discrimination Act or the Parental Leave Act.
That which is perceived by many to be discrimination is not always discrimination in the meaning of the law. The word discrimination is often used in casual speech about unfair treatment of different kinds, where a difference is made between people. A simplified description of discrimination under the Discrimination Act is when a person is treated disfavourably or when a person's dignity is violated. The disfavourable treatment or the violation of the person's dignity must have a connection to one of the seven grounds of discrimination.
A person who subjects another person to discrimination may be found liable to pay discrimination compensation. A court will determine whether discrimination has taken place and whether compensation for discrimination shall be paid. The Discrimination Act does not allow for changes or appeals regarding decisions by authorities, however.
If you are a member of a trade union and you feel that you have been discriminated against at work, you should first contact the union. Under the law, the union has the right to represent its members in discrimination cases and in matters related to unfavourable treatment in connection with parental leave. If the union will not represent you, you can make a complaint to DO. DO then needs a decision in writing from the trade union stating that it will not proceed with your case. This information should be attached to the complaint to DO.
Sweden's local anti-discrimination bureaus can help you in matters relating to discrimination.
Some NGOs have the right to bring an action in court on behalf of a person. This possibility is intended for associations which, depending on their size, expertise and finances, have a real opportunity to assist individuals.
Equality Ombudsman (DO)
DO provides information and guidance if you have questions about the Discrimination Act or the Parental Leave Act. We also receivecomplaints concerning discrimination and disfavourable treatment of those on parental leave. The complaints submitted to DO have an important role in the work for equal rights and opportunities, and may lead to different types of measures and actions on our part. Complaints provide us with information and help us to make discrimination visible. A complaint may also lead to DO undertaking a supervisory measure in relation to the party reported. DO also takes a limited number of complaints to court each year.
Lawyer or law firm
If you want help from a legal representative to pursue your case in court, you can contact a lawyer or a law firm. You can find information about lawyers on the Swedish Bar Association's website.
If you need financial support to cover legal costs , the legal protection in your home insurance or the national legal aid system can sometimes provide support. For more information, contact your insurance company and/or the National Legal Aid Authority (Rättshjälpsmyndigheten).
Information about the courts and bringing an action
Information on how to bring an action in court yourself and what costs this may involve can be found on the Swedish Courts' website. A lawyer or law firm can also inform you of what applies.
Other insulting treatment in education or at work
Disfavourable or degrading treatment at work or in education that is not related to any of the grounds of discrimination is not covered by the Discrimination Act, but is regulated in other laws; see below under each area.
Degrading treatment at work is regulated by among others the Work Environment Authority's regulations. For questions about degrading treatment at work, you can contact your trade union.
Preschool and school
Behaviour that violates a person's dignity but which does not have a connection with any of the grounds of discrimination is regulated in the Education Act. The Child and School Student Representative at the Swedish Schools Inspectorate receives complaints and answers questions on that type of degrading treatment in schools.
The information service at the Swedish National Agency for Education also answers questions about regulations in the Education Act and other provisions relating to schools and preschools.
Higher Education Institutions
If you are dissatisfied with a decision from a university or college, in certain cases you can appeal the decision to the Higher Education Appeals Board. An appeal may, for example, raise the issue that a decision violates the Discrimination Act.
Improperly treated by an authority or official
If you believe that you have been wrongly treated by a governmental or municipal authority, or by an individual official at such an authority, you can make a complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsman
If there is a connection between bad treatment by a public employee and one or more grounds of discrimination, it may be a case of discrimination (see above under Discrimination).
Subjected to violence, insults or other criminal acts
Any person found guilty of a criminal offence may be sentenced to a penalty and/or be found to be liable to pay damages. For example, if you have been insulted, sexually molested, harassed or subjected to violence by a private individual, you can report it to the police.
The concept of hate crime covers a variety of offences committed on the basis of the perpetrator's negative attitude concerning, for example, sexual orientation, skin colour or religion. If you wish to make a complaint, you should contact the police.
Support from RFSL's crime victim hotline
The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL) has a crime victim hotline which offers support and assistance to LGBT crime victims.
Agitation against a national or ethnic group
It is a crime in Sweden to disseminate threats or messages expressing contempt for a national, ethnic or other such group with allusion to race, skin colour, national or ethnic origin, religious belief or sexual orientation. If you wish to make a complaint, you should contact the police.
The Chancellor of Justice is the sole public prosecutor for crimes related to the freedom of press and expression, i.e. cases of unlawful statements in printed publications, radio and TV programmes as well as in technical recordings such as DVDs, CD-ROMs and so on.
The main task of the Chancellor of Justice is to supervise authorities and their officials in order to detect systematic errors in public activities.
Support for victims of violence in close relationships
Local women's shelters are available in many areas. You can see where the nearest available shelters are on the respective websites of the National Organisation for Women's Shelters and Young Women's Shelters in Sweden and Unizon.
You can find contact information for all women's shelters in both organisations at tjejjouren.se, which is a cooperative scheme between ROKS and Unizon.
The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL) has a crime victim hotline (Victim Support Sweden) which offers support and assistance to LGBT crime victims. The hotline provides advice and support on violence in same-sex relationships.
Mass media and advertising
Agitation against a national or ethnic group
See above under agitation against a national or ethnic group
Programmes on radio and TV
Concerning the content of radio and television broadcasts, what programme companies are allowed and required to do is regulated by the Radio and Television Act and in their broadcasting licences. If you want to complain about the content of a programme, you can contact the Swedish Broadcasting Authority.
The office of the Press Ombudsman
The Poffice of the Press Ombudsman is a trade institute with the task of helping individuals who feel that they are victims of unjustifiable publicity damage through printed newspaper articles and newspaper websites.
The Swedish Advertising Ombudsman
If you believe that an advertisement is for example unethical or sexist, you can contact the Swedish Advertising Ombudsman foundation. The Advertising Ombudsman is a self-regulatory organization founded by the industry. The Ombudsman receives complaints about commercial advertising also provides information, guidance and training.
Accessibility in society
Inadequate accessibility is a form of discrimination. Accessibility for persons with disabilities is also regulated by several other laws and rules. This means that there are several authorities that supervise accessibility in society in different areas. They also possess knowledge in the field and can provide advice and guidance, for example, on how you can make your business or your activities accessible. Here is some advice on who you can contact regarding different accessibility issues.
Swedish Agency for Participation
The Agency for Participation works on the premise that everyone is entitled to full participation in society, regardless of their functional ability. Among other things, they have suggestions and advice on how accessibility work can be structured in a public authority, a county council, a municipality or an organisation.
The Swedish Work Environment Authority is an authority that has the mandate from the government and the Riksdag to see that laws about work environment and working hours are followed by companies and organisations
Preschool and school
The National Agency for Education is the central administrative authority for the public school system, publicly organised preschooling, school-age childcare and for adult education.
The National Agency for Special Needs Education and Schools, SPSM
The task of SPSM is to ensure that children, young people and adults – regardless of functional ability – have adequate conditions to fulfil their educational goals. This is done through special needs support, education in special needs schools, accessible teaching materials and government funding.
Planning and building
Boverket – the Swedish National Board of Housing, Building and Planning – is a central government authority assorted under the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation.
The National Board of Health and Welfare is a government agency under the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, with a very wide range of activities and many different duties within the fields of social services, health and medical services, patient safety and epidemiology.