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Policy concerning sexualized discrimination and sexual harassment

Background Information

In 1996, the University of Oldenburg adopted its first policy on sexualized discrimination and sexual harassment. The policy is continuously revised and adapted to fit current circumstances. In addition, an internal university counselling service (conTakt) was set up in 2000.

Excerpts from the policy

The policy concerning sexualized discrimination and sexual harassment protects all members and affiliates of the University of Oldenburg. Students are explicitly included within its scope.
Complainants may not become the victims of disadvantageous circumstances in an employment or academic context due to exercising their rights.

All members and affiliates of the university providing educational, qualification or management services are responsible for ensuring that sex discrimination and sexual harassment is never tolerated and is stamped out in their fields of work and organizational units, especially if they have a duty of care.

Sexualized discrimination and harassment that can be classified as the exploitation of relationships of dependency in training programs or the workplace and in university degree programs is viewed as particularly grave, especially in circumstances where sexualized discrimination and harassment occur under the threat of personal, occupational or academic disadvantage or under the promise of advantage.

Forms of sexualized discrimination and sexual harassment

a) The following actions fall under the generic term of ‘sexualized discrimination’ as referred to in this policy:

  • Sexually derogatory remarks, including direct insults
  • Degrading and/or depersonalized remarks about individuals and/or their bodies that can be considered to be of a sexual nature, subtle or otherwise
  • sexually derogatory remarks about the sex life or body of another individual
  • Verbal, visual or electronic presentation of obscene, sexually degrading images
  • Sexual harassment, i.e. undesirable discrimination related to the sex and/or the sexual orientation of an individual, with the aim or effect of violating the dignity of that individual in terms of their sexual identity, thus creating an environment characterized by intimidation, humiliation, hostility, degradation or offensiveness
  • The implementation, creation, copying or use of obscene, sexually degrading material, such as computer programs and websites on computer systems, flyers or posters in buildings or on the grounds of the University or other institutions directly or indirectly affiliated with the University

b) ‘Sexual harassment’ within the scope of the policy includes:

  • Undesired sexual acts and/or requests for such acts, sexual harassment, § 184 i of the Strafgesetzbuch (Criminal Code; StGB)
  • Stalking within the meaning of § 238 StGB and/or coercion within the meaning of § 240 StGB in a sexual context, indirect or otherwise
  • Sexual assault/Rape within the meaning of §§ 177, 178 StGB

Dealing with formal complaints

The Counselling Service conTakt is the competent authority for issues regarding sex discrimination and sexual harassment and for formal complaints within the meaning of this policy. Staff must be trained accordingly and be able to provide information on the legal procedures used within the framework of the complaints procedure. The policy sets out the individual procedural steps.

If there is a breach of the policy and/or the Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz (General Equal Treatment Act) (AGG), the Presidential Chair has a duty to intervene. The Presidential Chair, after receipt of a recommendation from the Counselling Service, will decide what measures will be taken against the accused, taking into consideration all the interests involved and upholding the principles of proportionality.

Measures of intervention

The following actions can be taken depending on the legal situation:

  • Verbal or written admonition
  • Written warning
  • Transfer or reassignment of the accused person to another job within the University
  • Exclusion from the use of university facilities
  • Exclusion from a course (or even de-registration)
  • House ban
  • Termination with or without notice
  • Initiation of disciplinary proceedings and imposition of disciplinary measures, which may include reprimands, fines, reduction of salary or removal from post

Key legal principles*

Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz (General Equal Treatment Act) (AGG)
Niedersächsisches Hochschulgesetz (Lower Saxony Higher Education Act) (NHG) 
Strafgesetzbuch (Criminal Code) (StGB)

* In individual cases, for example those of a personal judicial nature, additional legislation may be relevant.

(Changed: 2021-08-20)