Sexual harassment: Chamber of Labor goes to court for train stewardess

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The AK is currently helping a young woman who was sexually harassed by her supervisor to sue for damages. The verdict against the superior himself is already final. The company itself, which has neglected its statutory duty of care, has appealed against the judgment of the Labor and Social Court.

"The extent to which women are exposed to sexual harassment in the workplace is shocking," says AK Labor Law Division Manager Ludwig Dvořák. “The evaluation of our labor law cases has shown once again that the catering industry is a problem area. Vienna's gastro chairman Peter Dobcak then announced in the media that he wanted to work out a protection concept with us. We are still waiting for concrete steps, the current case shows once again how important a joint approach would be. In any case, we are ready.”

From November 2018 to March 2021, the young woman worked as a stewardess for a catering company that caters to train passengers. Her direct superior twice behaved in a grossly insulting manner: once he spoke to the employee about her bust size. The second time, he speculated about her sexual practices in the presence of her partner, who also worked at the company at the time.

The employee turned to her supervisor's deputy. He then informed his boss, who promised a joint conversation, which never happened. In the second incident, the deputy told the employee's partner: "Stop it brother, he's like that, stop it, he does it often." The company did not remedy the situation, the victim had to continue working with the perpetrator.

The young woman and her partner contacted the AK, which successfully sued for damages for both of them from the employee's former supervisor. He has to pay the employee 2.500 euros and her partner 1.500 euros. The labor and social court in Vienna also ordered the company to pay damages of 2.000 euros in the first instance. But the company denied that the worker properly reported the incidents and has appealed.

AK Labor Law Division Head Ludwig Dvořák: “Employers must exercise their duty of care more than before and protect employees from abuse. In the present case, there were neither preventive measures nor a clear procedure as to who should do what if there was a case of sexual harassment. What particularly shocks me is the announcement by the deputy that the perpetrator does this more often. And yet everyone looked the other way! The legal regulations are not enough. We are therefore calling for the compensation that companies have to pay to be increased to EUR 5.000 if there is no demonstrable prevention concept in the company.”

Building of the Vienna Chamber of Labor (Photo: Jan Gruber).
Building of the Vienna Chamber of Labor (Photo: Jan Gruber).
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