Are you experiencing harassment or other inappropriate behaviour in the workplace? Learn more about your rights as an employee and the remedies available under Dutch law.
The employer must actively prevent harassment and other inappropriate behaviour
Employers are legally obliged to ensure a healthy and safe working environment and to map all occupational health risks, including inappropriate behaviour. Examples of inappropriate behaviour include harassment, intimidation (including sexual intimidation) discrimination and bullying. The employer must have a policy against inappropriate behaviour, setting out what is considered such behavior, who can file a complaint, with whom, and how the complaint will be handled, as well as disciplinary actions available against the perpetrator. If an employee has reported inappropriate behaviour in the workplace, the employer should strictly follow its own internal procedures and may be required to have a third party investigate the situation.
Disciplinary action against the perpetrator
As a result of inappropriate behaviour, the employer may take disciplinary action against the perpetrator, varying from a formal warning to dismissal, depending on the severity of the complaint and other relevant factors, such as the job positions of the employees involved and their years of service, as well as the culture in the company.
Compensation for victims of harassment or other inappropriate behaviour
The employee may claim compensation if the employee can demonstrate that the employer is liable for the inappropriate behaviour, for example if the employer failed to comply with its internal procedures. In practice, such a claim is usually made by the employee against the employer where there is also a claim regarding the termination of employment. Such a claim regarding termination of the employment could be on the employer’s initiative, for instance as a result of a disrupted employment relationship with the employee, or alternatively, at the employee’s initiative, for instance because the employer failed to adequately protect the employee and/or handle the employee’s complaint properly. The employer can avoid liability by showing that he had taken all steps that could be reasonably expected to prevent the inappropriate behaviour. The employee may also claim compensation from the perpetrator.
Other remedies available to an employee
In addition to filing a complaint with theemployer, Dutch law provides a set of other remedies, for instance:
- Reporting the harassment to the Works Council;
- Filing an external complaint through an external complaint procedure (if in place in the industry);
- Contacting the Netherlands Labour Authority (Nederlandse Arbeidsinspectie);
- If it concerns either a public interest or a breach of European Union law, filing a whistleblower report;
- If it concerns discrimination, reporting the discrimination to the Human Rights Institute (College voor de Rechten van de Mens).
Contacting our employment lawyers
Our English-speaking employment lawyers have extensive experience in assisting employees who have experienced harassment or other kinds of inappropriate behaviour in the workplace. Do you wish to discuss your situation with one of our lawyers? Feel free to contact us by using our contact form, or contact us by telephone (020 – 6898 123) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.