AAU Handbook

Procedure for dealing with offensive behaviour regarding staff at Aalborg University, including bullying, harassment and unwanted sexual attention

Procedure of handling offensive bahaviour against staff members at AAU

Published: 13.07.2018 (Last revised: 04.01.2022)

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The rules on expectations for staff conduct regarding offensive behaviour, including bullying, harassment and unwanted sexual attention describe what Aalborg University means by offensive behaviour.

In some situations, it may be natural for you to point out that another party is overstepping your boundaries. You are not obliged to do so, and you can always contact a third party, an option that is detailed below.

If you have experienced offensive behaviour, you can contact your immediate superior. If the perpetrator is your manager, you should contact your manager’s superior. You can also first contact your union representative, occupational health and safety representative, the HR department (please see contact person under contact/responsibility) or make use of the university's psychological counselling scheme to discuss the experience and get assistance on taking further action.

What is perceived as acceptable forms of interaction and what is perceived as sexual harassment can vary. Therefore, in some cases it can be difficult to identify sexual harassment.

If a staff member is unsure as to whether they have been subjected to or witnessed offensive behaviour, contact Aalborg University's psychological counselling service for anonymous advice.

Below, see how Aalborg University handles cases of possible offensive behaviour:

  • The relevant manager investigates the issue and consults the HR Department. This can be done by reviewing any documentation or by inviting the parties and any witnesses for interviews. The manager must be impartial in their investigation and exercise discretion towards all persons involved. In the investigation, the parties – including any witnesses – must describe the actual course of events. Depending on the gravity of the situation, the alleged perpetrator may be relieved of duty during the investigation.
  • The manager offers the injured party the necessary help, for example using Aalborg University's psychological counselling scheme.
  • The manager looks for solutions – it is crucial not to seek revenge or to engage in scapegoating. The focus must be on ensuring the safety of both parties in the given situation. As part of the solution, the manager may consider whether it is appropriate to relocate one of the parties. If problems are identified and these continue, or if they are of a particularly serious nature, the manager, in conjunction with the HR department, assesses whether the offensive behaviour should have consequences in terms of employment law. There can also be legal consequences for a staff member who has made wrongful accusations of offensive behaviour. The legal consequences include warning, dismissal or expulsion, which will be based on a specific assessment, including the circumstances and gravity of the case. Any well-founded suspicions of criminal offence will be reported to the police with the consent of the injured party. 
  • The manager must report the incident as a work-related accident to the central Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) section. The central OHS section assesses whether the case should be reported to the Danish Working Environment Authority and Labour Market Insurance. If the offensive incidents are not isolated events, but have been ongoing for a long period of time and have resulted in sick leave for the injured party, the manager must ask the injured party to have their own doctor report that the illness is presumed to be work-related. Doctors have a duty to report once they judge that a disease can be work-related.

Origin, background and history

Approved by the Main Joint Consultation Committee on 17 February 2021. 

Purpose and delimitation

This procedure describes how Aalborg University takes care of staff members who experience offensive behaviour from colleagues, managers, students or in other work relationships at Aalborg University.

If students experience offensive behaviour, see offensive behaviour towards students at Aalborg University

Overall framework

Refer also to the rules on expectations for employee conduct regarding offensive behaviour, including bullying, harassment and unwanted sexual attention

Both documents have been prepared with reference to the Danish Working Environment Authority's Guidance No. 9746 of 30 October 2020 on offensive behaviour, including bullying and sexual harassment. 

Contact and responsibility

In the event of offensive behaviour, staff members and managers can always contact the university's central section for occupational health and safety (Line Renée Thellufsen, tlf. 9940 7308, lrth@adm.aau.dk), Helle Ejersbo, Deputy Director, Tel: 9940 8391, ejer@adm.aau.dk or Henrik H. Søndergaard, HR Director, Tel: 9940 3938, hhs@adm.aau.dk. 

Document contact: Dorte Hollensen. 

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