Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Workplace harassment
A cultural difference in workplace harassment which perhaps mirrors the climate in workplaces in Norway and the United States - and which makes me Quite happy that I am, after all, working where harassment is defined with such sensitive, delicate personalities in mind.

NC UNLAWFUL WORKPLACE HARASSMENT POLICY FAC, the definitions of harasment at Fayetteville State University or at Indiana University claim that harassment is threats and intimidation, based among other things on race, gender, disabilities, religion, creed - there is a long list, and it is rather specific. To imagine working in a place where they need a written policy and legislation to be protected against these things is intimidating in itself. The Norwegian version is softer:

Mobbing på arbeidsplassen blir definert som en stadig og langvarig nedvurdering av en ansatt og hans eller hennes arbeidsinnsats
Mobbing er tilsiktet og ondsinnet
Sexpress er også mobbing
Det er mobbing når en eller flere personer i et avgrenset arbeidsmiljø gjentatte ganger og over tid blir utsatt for negative reaksjoner og handlinger fra ett eller flere individer i samme arbeidsfellesskap, hvor man faktisk oppholder seg halvparten av sitt hverdagsliv
Mobbing er å systematisk krenke et annet menneske
Mobbing er psykisk vold satt i system

"Mobbing" is the Norwegian word for harassment (and yes, it is a rather new Norwegian word which became well known in the 1970-ies, and it comes from "mob" - the activities of a mob, mobbing). This is not a legal form, but taken from the union against harassment in the workplace. It defines harassment as any long-term, systematic, malificient or just negative activity in one place from a group or from certain persons. Violence does not appear in this definition, because violence and threats are so totally unaccepted that Norwegians would not even consider protesting it a sensitive or problematic issue.

Or - Norwegians just haven't started digging in the dirt around workplace harassment yet, and we can expect to uncover much more unpleasant work-relationships than we have seen so far. I hope not.

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