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The Development of Ethnic Anti-Discrimination Labour Law and the current situation in Sweden regarding harassment

Glansborg, Ebba LU (2015) JURM01 20151
Department of Law
Abstract
The purpose of this thesis is to examine the development of the legislation in the field of ethnic discrimination in the working life and the current legal position in Sweden, to see if Sweden has effective legal protection against discrimination.

The development of international instruments concerning human rights has mainly happened after World War II. Sweden signed many of these instruments, but was very reluctant to take actions to conform to them. The legislator hesitated to introduce legislation on the area of ethnic discrimination in the working life with the motivation that ethnic discrimination did not occur in Sweden and that Sweden had a tradition of letting the social partners regulate themselves.

It is therefore clear... (More)
The purpose of this thesis is to examine the development of the legislation in the field of ethnic discrimination in the working life and the current legal position in Sweden, to see if Sweden has effective legal protection against discrimination.

The development of international instruments concerning human rights has mainly happened after World War II. Sweden signed many of these instruments, but was very reluctant to take actions to conform to them. The legislator hesitated to introduce legislation on the area of ethnic discrimination in the working life with the motivation that ethnic discrimination did not occur in Sweden and that Sweden had a tradition of letting the social partners regulate themselves.

It is therefore clear that it is international pressure that has driven the changes in the Swedish discrimination law concerning ethnic discrimination in the working life forward. Sweden’s hesitant standpoint has slowly changed and today there is extensive legislation in place in the Discrimination Act. The Act mirrors the EU directives on the area and contains – apart from prohibitions of direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and instructions to discriminate – also a special provision on the burden of proof meant to facilitate for a plaintiff to prove that discrimination has occurred.

A review of recent cases from the Swedish Labour Court concerning ethnic harassment in the workplace nevertheless show that it is utterly difficult for a plaintiff to prove that discrimination has occurred. In most cases the court is faced with a situation where the employee’s word stand against the employer’s word, and in such cases the court always find the employer to be more reliable than the employee. The same pattern, with difficulties for the employer to prove discrimination, is also found in other cases of claimed ethnic discrimination in the working life. Sweden has furthermore been criticised by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance and by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination for the extremely low number of cases from the Labour Court where ethnic discrimination has been found. It is obvious that this is problematic.

The conclusions that can be drawn are that the Labour Court is too restrictive in its application of the Discrimination Act; the court appears to apply higher evidentiary requirements than the Act prescribes. A change from the restrictive application of the discrimination presumption towards an application in accordance with the Discrimination Act is desirable. Another option to come to terms with the problem could be to open up for the possibility to appeal the decisions from the Labour Court to the Supreme Court. (Less)
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author
Glansborg, Ebba LU
supervisor
organization
course
JURM01 20151
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
language
English
id
7446279
date added to LUP
2015-06-25 18:58:17
date last changed
2015-06-25 18:58:17
@misc{7446279,
  abstract     = {The purpose of this thesis is to examine the development of the legislation in the field of ethnic discrimination in the working life and the current legal position in Sweden, to see if Sweden has effective legal protection against discrimination.

The development of international instruments concerning human rights has mainly happened after World War II. Sweden signed many of these instruments, but was very reluctant to take actions to conform to them. The legislator hesitated to introduce legislation on the area of ethnic discrimination in the working life with the motivation that ethnic discrimination did not occur in Sweden and that Sweden had a tradition of letting the social partners regulate themselves. 

It is therefore clear that it is international pressure that has driven the changes in the Swedish discrimination law concerning ethnic discrimination in the working life forward. Sweden’s hesitant standpoint has slowly changed and today there is extensive legislation in place in the Discrimination Act. The Act mirrors the EU directives on the area and contains – apart from prohibitions of direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and instructions to discriminate – also a special provision on the burden of proof meant to facilitate for a plaintiff to prove that discrimination has occurred.

A review of recent cases from the Swedish Labour Court concerning ethnic harassment in the workplace nevertheless show that it is utterly difficult for a plaintiff to prove that discrimination has occurred. In most cases the court is faced with a situation where the employee’s word stand against the employer’s word, and in such cases the court always find the employer to be more reliable than the employee. The same pattern, with difficulties for the employer to prove discrimination, is also found in other cases of claimed ethnic discrimination in the working life. Sweden has furthermore been criticised by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance and by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination for the extremely low number of cases from the Labour Court where ethnic discrimination has been found. It is obvious that this is problematic.

The conclusions that can be drawn are that the Labour Court is too restrictive in its application of the Discrimination Act; the court appears to apply higher evidentiary requirements than the Act prescribes. A change from the restrictive application of the discrimination presumption towards an application in accordance with the Discrimination Act is desirable. Another option to come to terms with the problem could be to open up for the possibility to appeal the decisions from the Labour Court to the Supreme Court.},
  author       = {Glansborg, Ebba},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {The Development of Ethnic Anti-Discrimination Labour Law and the current situation in Sweden regarding harassment},
  year         = {2015},
}