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Faculty of Social Sciences

Sexual harassment is a societal problem

vague rules about colleagues’ and managers’ time together

Sexual harassment is a societal taboo related to feelings of guilt and shame. A significant reason behind this is the vagueness in the regulations for colleagues and managers’ time spent together in the work place. Moreover, court cases often cast doubt on whether the violated person has contributed to an unacceptable tone. Even if the principle of equal treatment offers great protection to victims of sexual harassment as compared to victims of bullying and other forms of harassment, the labour market policy (with vague definitions of who is to blame) trumps the principle of equal treatment.

Policy about zero tolerance 

The #MeToo campaign shows, repeatedly, that many cases of sexual harassment never see the light of day and that we need new initiatives to prevent more cases. Researchers at Aalborg University have analysed cases of sexual harassment from the 1980s and up until today. Based on this data, the researchers conclude that businesses should have a clearly phrased zero tolerance policy about sexual harassment. In addition to this, they should have procedures on how to handle such cases should they happen. Sexual harassment should be tackled as a cultural problem at the work place rather than as a problem with the individual. 

Politicians, trade unions, interest groups, media etc. have shown interest in the research project “Sexual harassment at the work place” and the researchers have thus been used as advisors and participated in task force groups. The research results have been published as print and as press releases as well as they have been presented at conferences and political meetings and to public and private partners.


The study, ”Sexual harassment at the work place”, includes 95 cases from civil courts and 55 cases about work-related injuries. The study is likewise compiled of a number of interviews with jurists from trade unions, employers’ associations, as well as psychologists, lawyers and more. The research results are printed by Aalborg Universitetsforlag in 2017.

Head of Department Anette Borchorst
Department of Political Science 
Phone: +45 9940 8427 
E-mail: ab@dps.aau.dk
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Associate Professor Lise Rolandsen Agustín
Department of Culture and Global Studies
Phone: +45 9940 9230
E-mail: lisera@cgs.aau.dk
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