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Is it gender-based harassment if it’s customary in an organisation for female employees to always make coffee and tea and do the cleaning?

Gender-based harassment occurs if making coffee and cleaning is not related to the duties of female employees and they don’t want to do it themselves.

For example, gender-based harassment occurs when the company has not employed a cleaner and the duty to clean or make tea and coffee has not been agreed in any employee’s employment contract, but female employees are expected to perform these duties.

The assumption based on gender stereotypes that female employees have to clean and make tea and coffee because of their biological sex may be perceived by female employees as a violation of their dignity and the creation of a degrading, humiliating or offensive environment (clause 3 (1) 6) of the Gender Equality Act).

An employer must ensure that employees are protected from gender-based harassment in the working environment and take the necessary measures to stop harassment (clause 11 (1) 4) of the Gender Equality Act).

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.