Prohibition of reprisals

Those who want to complain about or report discrimination must be able to do so without having to worry about negative consequences. That is why the Discrimination Act contains a prohibition of reprisals that protects those who have reported or complained about discrimination from being punished.

What are reprisals?

Reprisals means that someone is subjected to some form of punishment or negative treatment as a reaction to them having complained about or reported discrimination.

Examples of reprisals are actions or statements that have a negative effect or causes discomfort for someone who has complained about or reported discrimination. It can also be actions that create less favourable conditions for the individual for example in the workplace or an education facility.
The prohibition of reprisals applies within the same areas as the prohibition of discrimination, for example in the workplace, in schools, in hospitals and at the bank.

The prohibition of reprisals applies in various situations

The protection against reprisals applies to those who have

  • reported discrimination
  • complained about someone violating the Discrimination Act
  • participated in an investigation into discrimination
  • rejected or given in (agreed to it against their will) to harassment or sexual harassment.

Complaining about a violation of the Discrimination Act means, for example, coming forward to describe what you have seen or heard in your workplace, at school or in other areas of society.

The prohibition of reprisals within different areas

In working life

The prohibition of reprisals means that, as an employer, you are not allowed to punish:

  • A person who has reported or complained that the employer has violated a provision of the Discrimination Act. For example, a report or complaint can be about the employer having subjected an employee to some form of discrimination or that the employer has not investigated and taken action to tackle alleged harassment or sexual harassment in the workplace.
  • A person who is participating in an investigation– in other words, the person who on their own or someone else's account submits information to, for example, the Equality Ombudsman during the investigation of a case.
  • A person who rejects or gives in to the employer's harassment or sexual harassment. Giving in can be when someone agrees to something against their will.

Examples of reprisals

Reprisals in working life include the employe

  • being given an unreasonable workload
  • having their duties taken away from them
  • being promised a benefit that is later retracted
  • being given tasks that do not correspond to their level of expertise
  • being treated in a threatening or violatory manner.

The protection covers many people

The protection against reprisals applies to

  • employees
  • those who are asking for work or applying for a job
  • those who are applying for an traineeship or working as an trainee or intern
  • those who perform work as temporary or borrowed labour.

Preventing reprisals

As an employer, you must have guidelines and procedures for preventing reprisals. Guidelines and procedures also have to cover harassment and sexual harassment.

Guidelines and procedures for preventing harassment, sexual harassment and reprisals.

In the education sector

Staff at, for example, a university or school are not allowed to subject a student or pupil to punishment or other negative treatment due to the pupil or student having reported the school for discrimination. This also applies when someone is participating, for example as a witness, in an investigation involving discrimination, harassment, or is complaining that discrimination has occurred.

In the education sector, reprisals include

  • lower grades
  • harassment during a class or lecture
  • threats of violence
  • other unfavourable treatment.

In other areas of society

Reprisals do not occur only in working life and the education sector . Other areas covered by the prohibition include healthcare, compulsory military service, treatment by a person employed in the public sector and by those involved in the supply of goods and services.
Reprisals within other areas of society include:

  • Being banned from a shop or restaurant that the person in question has reported.
  • A landlord harassing a tenant that has complained about discrimination
  • Social services not wanting to help aperson who has reported them
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