Sexual harassment is prohibited by the Austrian Equal Treatment Act (“Gleichbehandlungsgesetz”) passed in 2004 and by the Federal Equal Treatment Act (“Bundes-Gleichbehandlungsgesetz”) passed in 1993. Since then, there have been amendments due to European Union legislation. The rules in both acts follow the same scheme and address:
- sex-related harassment i.e. unwanted conduct related to the protected characteristic of sex;
- harassment of a sexual nature i.e. unwanted conduct of a sexual nature.
(Sexual) harassment is subject to the Equal Treatment Act if it (1) results in an intimidating, hostile or humiliating work environment for the people concerned or this conduct is aimed to do so, or (2) if it results in a less or more favourable treatment based on a person's rejection of, or submission to, sex-related harassment or sexual harassment.
Section 6 Austrian Equal Treatment Act prohibits harassment:
- by the employer,
- by a third party related to the employment,
- by a third party not related to the employment.
The Act also holds the employer liable if he or she fails to provide a remedy against (sexual) harassment.
The first legal definition of sexual harassment was introduced in the French Labour Code in 1992. It has since been modified several times. A 2012 law currently defines sexual harassment as:
- repeated sexual remarks or behaviours affecting someone’s dignity because of its degrading or humiliating nature, or creating an intimidating, hostile or offending situation;
- pressurising someone with the intent of getting sexual favors for oneself or for someone else.
In addition, since 2015, the French Labour Code prohibits any sexist behavior affecting the dignity of an employee or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive working environment.
Finally, since 2019, in companies employing at least 250 employees, someone has to be appointed as a “sexual harassment officer”. In every company that has a Social and Economic Committee, such an officer is also designated by the Committee from within its members.