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.
Under the Dutch Working Conditions Act (1999) (in Dutch: Arbeidsomstandigheden wet) (“the Act”) employers are obliged to create a safe and healthy working environment for their employees. The Act applies to all employers and employees in the Netherlands. The Act also applies to international employers who have employees working in the Netherlands. Both the employer and employee are subject to statutory obligations, as both parties are responsible for health and safety at work. The specific rules for employer and employee to ensure a healthy and safe workplace are further laid down in the Working Conditions Decree (in Dutch: Arbeidsomstandighedenbesluit).
Regarding sexual harassment in the workplace, employers are required by the Act to prevent and/or limit inappropriate behaviour (discrimination, sexual intimidation, aggression and violence and bullying).
The Act states:
"The employer shall operate a policy aimed at preventing employment-related psychosocial workload, or limiting it if prevention is not possible, as part of the general working conditions policy" (article 3, sub 2 Dutch Working Conditions Act).
Employment-related psychosocial workload is being described as: "the factors direct or indirect distinction, including sexual intimidation, aggression and violence, bullying, and work pressure, in the employment situation that cause stress" (article 1, sub 3e the Act).
Furthermore a general prohibition on sexual harassment by the employer is included in the Civil Code under article 7:646 Dutch Civil Code and article 1a of the Equal Treatment Act (1994) which states that "sexual harassment is understood: any form of verbal, non-verbal or physical behaviour of a sexual nature of which the purpose or effect is the violation of a person's dignity, in particular when creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment".