Yes, they can. The employer is thereby obliged to protect their employee. Harassing behaviour is not caused by the victim of harassment, but by the person who is harassing others. The fact that a person is Jewish or Taaraist, a parent or homosexual in itself does not cause harassment – it is caused by the harasser’s attitude towards Jews or Taaraists, performance of parental commitments or sexual minorities. The harasser’s behaviour can be directed at a member of a minority group or at a person who the harasser thinks is a member of a minority group but is not.
Employers must investigate and stop harassment even if it is based on a perception that a person is a member of a legally protected minority group when in fact they are not. Even if a harassing, hostile, degrading, humiliating, offensive or threatening atmosphere has developed towards a minority group that isn’t represented in the workplace collective, the working environment and the well-being of the employees will be adversely affected. A negative atmosphere upsets employees, even if it does not directly concern them. It’s only natural that somebody will speak out against it. Employers need to protect employees and harassing working environments need to be turned into positive ones.
This explanation does not constitute legal aid in a specific case. Therefore, if you feel that you have been treated unequally, but you did not find a solution to your problem in this article, or if you have a question, please contact the Equality Commissioner by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone +372 626 9059. The anonymity of the person is guaranteed when contacting the Commissioner.