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Anti-Discrimination Laws in Sweden

1. Brief Description of Anti-Discrimination Laws

The anti-discrimination legislation consists of the Discrimination Act, which prohibits both direct and indirect discrimination as well as harassment in working life based on sex, ethnicity, religion or other belief, disability, sexual orientation, transgender identity or expression and age. Furthermore, employers may neither discriminate against part-time nor fixed-term employees, nor treat an applicant or an employee unfairly on grounds related to parental leave under Swedish law. Trade union representatives are also protected from discrimination based on their union activities.

2. Extent of Protection

Discrimination according to the Discrimination Act is defined as:

  1. Direct discrimination
  2. Indirect discrimination
  3. Inadequate accessibility
  4. Harassment
  5. Sexual harassment
  6. Instructions to discriminate: orders or instructions to discriminate against someone in a manner referred to in points 1–4.

The Discrimination Act also prohibits reprisals.

3. Protections Against Harassment

The employer is required to take preventive action to ensure that harassment does not occur at the workplace. Employers with 25 or more employees must have a policy and a contingency plan detailing their work against both sexual harassment and harassment related to sex, ethnicity, religion or other belief. Employers who learn that someone is experiencing harassment at the workplace must investigate and, if confirmed, put a stop to it.

If an employer becomes aware that an employee considers that he or she has been subjected to harassment or sexual harassment in connection with work by someone performing work at the employer’s establishment, the employer is obliged to investigate the circumstances surrounding the alleged harassment and where appropriate take the measures that can reasonably be demanded to prevent harassment in the future. This obligation also applies with respect to a person carrying out a traineeship or performing work as temporary or borrowed labour.

4. Employer’s Obligation to Provide Reasonable Accommodations

According to the Discrimination Act an employer that provides inadequate accessibility, meaning that a person with disability is disadvantaged through a failure to take measures for accessibility to enable the person to come into a situation comparable with that of persons without this disability where such measures are reasonable, can be liable to pay damages. In addition, the Working Environment Act obliges the employer to adjust the company operations to the employee’s individual possibilities and needs.

5. Remedies

The employer can be incurred liability to compensate the employee for discrimination according to the Discrimination Act. Furthermore, if someone is discriminated against by a provision in an individual contract or in a collective bargaining agreement in a manner that is prohibited under the Discrimination Act, the provision shall be modified or declared invalid if the discriminated person requests this.

For more information on these articles or any other issues involving labour and employment matters in Sweden, please contact Robert Stromberg, Partner at Cederquist (www.cederquist.se) at robert.stromberg@cederquist.se
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