An article like ‘Severance payment for refusing power abuser’ in PW|DeGids of the 9th of July 2015 shows there are still many ambiguities with regard to a complaint, henceforth be known as crime, like sexual harassment in the workplace. Resulting in the fact that in many cases the perpetrator easily gets away. Lawyers, judges, complaints investigators and mediators get paid, while the victim in the end pays the price.
Men and women have equal rights in The Netherlands, also in the business community. Equal rights in a living wage, social and health protection, education and the right of protection against sexual harassment in the workplace. Companies have for instance an active duty to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.
However, including nice principles into a code of conduct appears to be insufficient. It’s about the actual impact, business operations need to be examined and measures have to be taken to counter the risks of violating the policy against sexual harassment in the workplace. When a victim internally reports the crime, he or she is in many cases flooded with ‘misguided’ advice by (if present) the counselor. It appears that the counselor often doesn’t possess the knowledge of how to handle a crime like sexual harassment. This is because of the lacking of policy against sexual harassment in an organization.
Aftereffect of this all is that the ignorance of third parties and the lack of protection will lead the victim like a lamb to the slaughter for the termination of the employment. Employers, directors and managers who are committing sexual harassment well know how to manipulate (and prevent) the ‘independent’ investigation.
So the perpetrator, often the superior of the victim, is protected in court by a disappointing verdict of the judge who despite the evidence stumbles over a not correctly gone through process. The victim is here for not to blame, but the judge does in a sense.
A victim of sexual harassment in the workplace often already suffers for months or years from the perpetrators abuse of power. Being numb, exhausted and emotionally destroyed it is very hard for the victim to find the courage and energy to step forward. It’s downright impudent that the job requirements of a counselor aren’t defined by Dutch law, but meanwhile estimated as the first and crucial stage in the Health and Safety Act, the Civil Code and also on a political level for preventing sexual harassment in the workplace.
The ignorance of the assistance is the main enemy for the victim of sexual harassment. While the bills are being paid for the lawyers, judges or complaint investigator and a perpetrator receives his reward by a redundancy payment or a return to his office, I ask myself the question if the respect for the Dutch labor law is obvious.
Please note: do employers (like Sir and madam in Spitting on Hans’ tosti) and employees (policymakers) know that in The Netherlands a counselor needs to be appointed by means of an official contract? In which are mentioned the usual provisions, but also the job requirements of a counselor.