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When being discriminated, harassed, sexually harassed or victimized

KTH’s core values are based on democracy, the equal value of human beings, human rights and freedom and free and open discussion. Equality between men and women and the dissociation from all forms of discrimination are both an issue of quality and a natural part of KTH’s core values. Equality and diversity among employees and students also represent important resources for KTH, from Ethical policy for KTH V-2016-0347.

As an employee, where do I go for help and support?

If you need support when you feel that you have been discriminated against, harassed, sexually harassed or been exposed to victimization, go to the HR Officer at your School. Or approach another School staff member you trust. Or contact a counsellor at the occupational health care, your union or the School Health and Safety officer.

The first step is a talk with the person you turn to for support, to find out what happened. Together, discuss how to proceed. As regards to a complaint to KTH, there are no special formalities. A complaint may be in spoken or written form.

Some advice for people who have been exposed to such acts:

You are the only one who determines whether the act or behaviour pattern is unwelcome. Try to react immediately if you feel such an act has occurred by clarifying for those who have subjected you the actions that they are unwelcome on your part.
In cases of perceived discrimination, employees may make a complaint directly to the Discrimination Ombuds Office at . This complaint to the Discrimination Ombuds Office may be made parallel with a complaint to KTH.

Or file a complaint at the the Equality Ombdudsman (DO)

If you feel that you have been discriminated against by for instance your employer, your union or your employment office, on grounds of sex, transgender identity or expression, ethnicity, religion or other belief, disability, sexual orientation or age, you can report the matter to the Equality Ombudsman (DO).

You can also file a complaint if you feel you have been treated unfairly in connection with parental leave, or if an employer is not taking active steps to prevent discrimination. You can report your employer if he or she has failed to investigate a complaint about harassment or has failed to take action against harassment at the workplace. Have you as someone with a disability been refused reasonable adaptation measures at your workplace? In that case you can report the matter to the Equality Ombudsman.

It is always the employer, the union or the employment office, for instance, that is responsible for the situation there. So you can report any of them to the Ombudsman, but you cannot report a private individual.

NB The prohibition against age discrimination does not apply in contact with an unemployment fund. Contact the Equality Ombudsman

How to proceed

You can only file a complaint if it is you personally who feels discriminated against or unfairly treated. Complaints must be in writing and include your name, address, telephone number, and preferably your email address, plus the name of the employer, employment office or union (whichever is appropriate). Also, describe why you think you have been discriminated against.

Report the matter promptly. If too much time elapses between the discrimination/unfair treatment and the complaint, the right to legal action may expire, which means it will no longer be possible for the Equality Ombudsman to investigate the case. Events that occurred more than two years earlier are not usually investigated.

Complaints about discrimination, harassment and unfair treatment of employees on parental leave are investigated by the Ombudsman’s case officers. If you belong to a union, the Ombudsman must first ask that union if it wishes to represent you in the dispute. If the union does not wish to represent you, or you do not want it to, the Ombudsman investigates the case. The Ombudsman adopts a neutral stance, which means it draws on information both from the person who reported the matter and from whoever was the subject of the complaint. If the investigations shows discrimination or unfair treatment can be assumed to have occurred, the Ombudsman first tries to negotiate a voluntary agreement – a settlement – between you and, say, your employer. This may involve a pay rise, an apology, financial compensation or training measures. Should you and, in this case, your employer fail to reach a settlement, the Equality Ombudsman can take the matter to the Labour Court.

Punishment is forbidden

If you have reported your employer, employment office, union or similar for discrimination, you must not be punished, i.e. subjected to reprisals. Examples of punishment or reprisals include being ordered to work excessive overtime, being given a heavier workload or unskilled duties, or being refused help by an employment office. Nor may an employer subject you to reprisals if for instance you point out that she or he has not taken preventive action against discrimination.

If you are subjected to reprisals, you can report this to the Equality Ombudsman.

Public document

The Equality Ombudsman is a government agency. This means that your complaint is registered and becomes a public document that both the general public and the media have access to. In special circumstances, the Equality Ombudsman is allowed to classify data as secret, which means that parts of the document is not released. If you have questions concerning the filing of complaints and how this is done, please feel free to contact the Equality Ombudsman and to ask an investigating officer for advice.


Discrimination is a violation of the principle of equal treatment. Discrimination means that someone (such as an employer or education provider) treats someone else (such as a student or employee), for unjustified reasons, worse than others and this treatment is related to discrimination on grounds of gender, gender identity or expression, ethnicity, religion or belief, disability, sexual orientation or age.

Direct discrimination

Direct discrimination is defined as an individual being disadvantaged by being treated less favourably than another person is, has been or would be treated in a comparable situation and that this is linked to one or more grounds for discrimination i.e. gender, gender identity or expression, ethnicity, religion or belief, disability, sexual orientation or age.

Indirect discrimination

Indirect discrimination is defined as an individual being disadvantaged by the application of a provision, criterion or practice which appears neutral but that may be a particular disadvantage to individuals of a particular gender, certain transgender identity or expression, certain ethnic origin, certain religion or belief, certain disability, sexual orientation or age.

Harassment and sexual harassment

Harassment is conduct that violates a person's dignity and that is associated with one or more of the grounds for discrimination: gender, gender identity or expression, ethnicity, religion or belief, disability, sexual orientation or age.

Sexual harassment is conduct of a sexual nature that violates someone's dignity. This may involve physical contact, groping, jokes, suggestions, looks or images that are sexually explicit and often perceived as derogatory.


The concept of victimization is used in health and safety legislation and is described as recurrent, unwelcome behaviour, behaviour or negative actions directed against individual employees/students in an offensive manner that may lead to those exposed becoming excluded from the workplace/school community. Other terms often used to describe similar behaviour include bullying, mental abuse and social exclusion. These attitudes demonstrate serious disrespect and violate our joint honourable and moral concepts of how people should be treated.

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Last changed: Oct 16, 2020