In a first meeting, we talk about your questions and interests regarding the counseling. Together we develop the further procedure and decide in which form we can support you.
You can make an appointment for a first meeting by email or during our telephone office hours, or you can leave us a message on our answering machine.
Various formats are then possible:
Individual counseling in case of discrimination or conflicts
Group or team counseling
Conflict analysis and activities for conflict management
Specialized offers in cases of discrimination (e.g. facilitated talks at the request of those affected)
Coaching for supervisors
Discrimination is a pejorative, disadvantageous or excluding unequal treatment.
To decide whether something is discriminatory, it is the effect on those affected that matters, not the motive or intention of those discriminating. Discrimination is not always obvious. It can take place in a subtle way and is therefore sometimes difficult to prove.
At the universities as well as in the public service in the state of Bremen, employees who have experienced discrimination have the possibility to file a complaint against the discrimination at the complaint office (according to AGG § 13).
At the University of Bremen, the HfK and the Bremen University of Applied Sciences, students also have the opportunity to file a complaint against discrimination.
At the ADE, we provide advice on complaint options and the specific steps in a complaint procedure.
Discrimination according to the AGG
The AGG (General Equal Treatment Act) aims to prevent and eliminate discrimination on the grounds of
- race or ethnic origin
- gender or gender identity (this also includes discrimination against trans*, inter* and non-binary people)
- sexual orientation
- disability or chronic illness
Discrimination occurs if an individual is treated less favorably than another
in a comparable situation
without an objectively justified reason
on the basis of one of the characteristics mentioned in the AGG
There are other forms of discrimination that are not covered by the AGG, but which we consider in our work as well. For example, discrimination on the basis of social status and social origin, body weight, and many more.
Different forms of discrimination can intersect with and reinforce each other - this is described by the term "intersectionality". Kimberlé Crenshaw, a professor of law, developed the term to describe and legally capture the specific discrimination against Black women (i.e. the intersection of race, gender and class).
Intersectional discrimination (and privilege) also shapes our work and study places. For example, the discrimination that a lesbian employee with a disability experiences might be different to the one that a lesbian employee without a disability or a heterosexual employee with a disability experiences. The dimensions of sexism, ableism and homophobia interact in specific ways.
Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination that targets in particular the gender or gender identity of the person affected.
Sexual harassment is any sexualized behavior that is unwanted by the affected person, that is perceived by them as offensive and derogatory, and that violates the dignity of the affected person.
It includes words and gestures up to physical assault. It can range from abusive remarks about appearance or private life, telling insinuating jokes, showing or attaching pornographic images, taxing glances, unwanted touching to criminal offenses such as stalking, sexual assault and rape.
Jokes, insults and attacks that target a person's sexual orientation can also be considered sexual harassment.
Because this form of harassment is not about sexuality, but about the exercise of violence and power, we also use the term "sexualized harassment" and use it synonymously with the term "sexual harassment", which is used and defined in the General Equal Treatment Act (AGG, § 3, paragraph 4).
Sexual harassment is a common manifestation of violence against women, but it can affect people of all genders.
The "instructions for protection against sexual harassment in the workplace” (in German: Dienstanweisung zum Schutz vor sexueller Belästigung am Arbeitsplatz") (2018) applies to all employees of the public universities and the public service in the state of Bremen. It lists counseling services for those affected and the responsibility of supervisors as well as the complaint procedure. The service instruction can be found here.
Conflicts are an everyday and unavoidable part of human cooperation. Differences, frictions and tensions are not problematic, if those involved in the conflict or the organizations are able to deal with them constructively. A conflict becomes a burden if the conflict skills of the individuals are not given and the organizations are insufficiently equipped and qualified for a constructive handling of conflicts.
A conflict has the following characteristics:
1. There are at least two parties to the conflict
2. There is a dependency (common task, goal, concern or work context)
3. Feelings are involved (discomfort, tension, anger, fear or similar strong feelings up to physical symptoms and illness)
4. There is a field of tension
different goals or intentions to act
different assessment or perception
scarce resources (distribution conflicts)
unclear roles and functions
the relationship is disturbed
personal conflict in one of the persons involved
(Source: Kreyenberg, Jutta (2005): Handbook of Conflict Management. Berlin. p. 52-54)
It is important to distinguish between discrimination and conflicts, because they are two different phenomena that require different interventions and procedures, but at the same time can be intertwined.
In addition to individual counseling for personal reflection, we also offer methods and activities for dealing with conflicts in teams. These activities have to be mandated by the next higher non-involved supervisor. We present the specific procedure in a first meeting.
The service agreement "Conflict Management at the Workplace" (2014) applies to employees of the public universities and the public service in the state of Bremen. This specifies the responsibilities of supervisors, the rights of employees, and the procedure for dealing with conflicts. The service agreement can be found here.
Mobbing is the systematic hostility, attacking and bullying over a longer period of time, in which the attacked person gets into a permanently inferior position. Mobbing often develops insidiously from unresolved conflicts and often consists of many small events that would not be destructive in themselves, but in their totality cause great damage to the person affected.
In order to speak of mobbing, the following characteristics must be fulfilled:
systematic, indirect and direct attacks, hostilities, and bullying
by one or more persons
over a longer period of time
with the aim / effect of exclusion from the employment or the company community and the violation of the general personal rights, honor and health.
Mobbing acts can be attacks
on the possibility to communicate, e.g. constant interruption when speaking at meetings, deliberate withholding or exclusion of information,
on social relations in the workplace, e.g. no longer greeting people/ "treating them like air”
on social reputation, e.g. spreading rumors or ridiculing a person
on the professional reputation, e.g. repeated criticism of mistakes in absentia without the possibility to take a stand
on the quality of the professional and life situation, e.g. by assigning meaningless or degrading tasks or tasks that are far above or below the level of ability, as well as
on health, e.g. through threats of physical violence or abusive coercion to perform work that is harmful to health.
Mobbing does not include smaller conflicts that occur occasionally in any collaboration, or disputes under civil service, disciplinary or labor law about poor performance or misconduct in the line of duty.
As soon as a supervisor learns of mobbing in her*his area of responsibility, s*he has a duty to act within the framework of the employers duty of care (Fürsorgepflicht), i.e. supervisor are obliged to clarify the situation and prevent mobbing.
Stalking refers to the repeated unlawful pursuit, intrusive harassment, threatening and terrorizing of a person against their will, up to and including physical and psychological violence.
As a rule, stalking is not a single act, but rather consists of a series of acts over a longer period of time, which can include criminal acts such as defamation, slander, damage to property, coercion, bodily harm and stalking (Section 238 of the Criminal Code).
It is not uncommon for stalking to develop out of (ex-)relationships and after rejections or separations. Frequent motives are the exercise of power, dominance and control as well as the excessive need to be noticed by the other person and to establish or maintain contact with him*her.
We offer workshops, trainings and information events on the topics of discrimination, sexual harassment, conflicts, mobbing and violence.
Employees and supervisors of the Bremen public service and the universities can find seminars and workshops in the annual training program of the AFZ.
For the universities HSB, HfK and Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences as well as for departments and resorts of the public services in Bremen, we also have a contingent for inhouse-trainings and workshops, which we conduct free of charge.
If you are interested in a training or seminar for your team or department, please contact us.
Within a limited contingent we also offer our expertise and workshops as a service for other universities, for which a fee is charged.
Possible topics for training are:
Basic training on how to deal with discrimination, sexual harassment, conflicts, mobbing and/ or violence in the educational and work environment
Possibilities and obligations for action in dealing with discrimination, conflicts or violence. Specifically tailored for the different roles: supervisors, interest groups, AGG complaints offices and other internal contact persons
Measures and activities to prevent discrimination and / or conflicts
Prerequisites and conditions for setting up a AGG-complaints office and / or in-house conflict management
Discrimination-sensitive consulting and conflict management
It is important to distinguish between discrimination, conflict and mobbing, because these are different phenomena (even if they are sometimes intertwined) and each of them requires different processing and intervention by supervisors and employers.
If supervisors learn of discrimination, sexual harassment or mobbing or observe signs of it themselves, they must take action and take measures to clarify the facts and ensure the protection of those affected. The obligation to take action exists not only when supervisors are informed of incidents through an official complaint, but also when they learn of incidents in conversations or through other information.
The role of supervisors in conflicts is different because here their role depends on the degree of escalation of the conflict, and also whether employees have already tried to resolve the conflict themselves.
Role and responsibilities of supervisors in discrimination cases
As soon as the employer or supervisor learns of discrimination, they must fulfill their duty of care (=Fürsorgepflicht) and initiate measures to stop the discrimination and protect the person affected.
These are the steps in cases of discrimination:
Check which immediate measures are necessary to stop or avert the discrimination and to protect the person affected. Implement them immediately.
Clarify the facts (by hearing the affected person, the accused person(s) and, if necessary, witnesses, by viewing evidence, etc.) and determine appropriate measures and sanctions.
Communicate the results to the affected and accused persons.
Implementation of measures.
After two to four weeks: Review the effectiveness of the measures.
Role and responsibilities of supervisors in conflicts
Supervisors should not intervene in conflict situations if
The employees have not yet attempted to resolve the conflict among themselves
Generally: if the employees can resolve the conflict themselves!!!!
Supervisors should intervene in conflict situations,
if there has been misconduct,
the interaction with third parties (customers, cooperation partners, etc...) is impaired,
the goal and interests of the organization / company are impaired,
company rules are violated,
rules and obligations under labor law / service law are violated. This includes when there is talk of mobbing or when discrimination is expressed or perceived.
the assessment for intervention is ideally based on own observations and concrete facts,
there are concrete complaints,
employees have already tried to resolve the conflict themselves and this has not led to an improvement in the situation.
Procedure in case of conflicts (according to the service agreement "Conflict Management at the Workplace)
If the parties involved in the conflict have already tried to resolve the conflict themselves, but have failed and turn to the supervisor, the service agreement “Conflict Management at the Workplace” defines the following procedure:
Supervisors conduct individual interviews with the people involved to analyze the conflict and to clarify the interests of the parties involved.
After evaluating the interviews, the supervisor decides on further steps or measures, which s*he either implements him*herself or for which s*he requests an external service (such as the ADE).
If the attempt to resolve the conflict fails, the next higher-level supervisor takes over.
Role and responsibilities of supervisors in cases of mobbing
As soon as supervisor or employers learn of mobbing, they must act accordingly to their duty of care.
There is an obligation to take action and this must include on the one hand clarifying the facts and on the other hand intervening and stopping the mobbing (examination, immediate measures during an examination to protect those involved, right to issue instructions, warning, transfer up to termination)
In the event of inaction on the part of the employer or ineffective intervention, the person affected can demand compensation from the employer (therapy costs, legal costs, compensation for pain and suffering).