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Does the employer have to intervene if an employee complains that a colleague is constantly touching them, or is this something that employees should sort out among themselves?

Pursuant to law, an employer must ensure that employees are protected from gender-based harassment and sexual harassment in the working environment (clause 11 (1) 4) of the Gender Equality Act). Constant physical contact can be considered sexual harassment if its nature is sexual for the perpetrator. Even if the perpetrator does not consider it to be sexual, but it’s perceived as such by the person who encounters such conduct, it’s sexual harassment. If an employee has made it clear that they do not like this kind of behaviour, it means such behaviour is unwanted. It’s therefore important that the employer intervenes to ensure the well-being of their employee and fulfils their obligations.

Sexual harassment can also be perpetrated by clients. Again, it’s up to the employer to find a solution that protects the employee from harassment.

If the situation cannot be resolved, you can turn to the Equality Commissioner, the Labour Inspectorate or the police. If sexual harassment is confirmed, the victim has the right to receive separate damages for discrimination. 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 avaldus@volinik.ee or telephone +372 626 9059. The anonymity of the person is guaranteed when contacting the Commissioner.