The Gender Equality Institute is asking for an adjustment in legislation which would allow it to take action more quickly in the (sexual) harassment cases on the work place. Currently, the Institute can only intervene once the victim has exhausted all legal proceedings provided by the law on harassment. A legislative modification would allow the Institute to accompany and support the victims more quickly, as it may do for all other victims of discrimination in connection with gender within the work context.
The Institute initiates this appeal as it wasn’t able to win its case before the court in a particular affair. An employee had called his colleague a “mussel” and the woman had felt physically threatened. The Institute had filed a complaint in 2016.
The court just ruled that the facts did not constitute a violation of the law on sexism. The judge indicated that the metaphorical reference to this bivalve mollusk of the Mytiloida order may have several meanings. Moreover, the denigrating nature of the context was not sufficiently proven. Carrying on with its semantic expertise, the court underlined that the word “mussel” a priori designates “the feminine sexual organs in a crude way,” but may also simply be a “banal insult, devoid of any sexual connotation.”
The defendant was acquitted.
The Brussels Times