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Guidelines for Protection Against Sexual Discrimination, Harassment, and Violence

Thursday, 11. February 1999

The Academic Senate (AS) of TU Berlin agreed by majority vote to adopt the Guidelines for Protection Against Sexual Discrimination, Harassment, and Violence. The guidelines apply to all members of the University as well as all other persons researching, teaching or studying at TU Berlin and TU Berlin visitors. The guidelines encompass protection against sexual discrimination in the form of personal disparagement based on gender, sexual harassment in the form of verbal, visual, written and/or physical abuse of a sexual nature and sexual violence in the form of sexual assault and rape.

1. Introduction

  1. In the Guidelines for the Advancement of Women of 1.9.1993 passed by the Academic Senate, Technische Universität Berlin pledged itself to combating sexual discrimination, harassment and violence. The guidelines herein presented represent the honoring of this pledge.
    These guidelines apply to all members of the University as well as all other persons researching, teaching or studying at Technische Universität Berlin and visitors to the institution. The guidelines encompass protection against
  • a. sexual discrimination in the form of disparagement based on the gender of a person,
  • b. sexual harassment in the form of verbal, visual, written and/or physical abuse of a sexual nature, 
  • c. sexual violence in the form of sexual assault and rape. 

Examples include

  • sexually degrading language (in particular comments or jokes regarding a person, their body, their behavior or their intimate private life),
  • gestures and non-verbal communication of a sexual nature,
  • verbal, visual or electronic depictions of a pornographic or sexist nature,
  • the copying, application or use of pornographic or sexist computer programs on computer systems,
  • unwelcome physical contact or infringements,
  • unwelcome invitations or coercion to engage in sexual behavior. 
  1. The capacity to deal with problems related to sexual discrimination, harassment and violence is to form a criterion for the evaluation of management skills. Staff with leadership roles are required to attend appropriate training courses.
  2. The guidelines are to be published within the University and presented to new employees and those taking up office as well as new students.

2. Principle

  1. Technische Universität Berlin is committed to promoting working relations between men and women which are both respectful and conducted on the basis of equality at all academic and non-academic functional levels. The University strives to achieve and maintain a working atmosphere conducive to achieving this aim.
    Sexual discrimination, harassment and violence represent a massive violation of the rights of the person affected. They create an atmosphere of intimidation and degradation which can affect not only the capacity and motivation to work but also the health of anyone affected.
  2. Sexual discrimination, harassment and violence additionally represent a violation of obligations in terms of contract, service law, civil service law and legislation governing higher education and appropriate action is to be taken.
    All members of the University, particularly those with responsibility for apprenticeships and training and continuing education as well as those with leadership roles in teaching, research, training, administration and self-management are, on the basis of their duty of care, responsible for ensuring that sexual discrimination, harassment and violence do not occur or are eliminated and treated as violations of law.
  3. Incidents of sexual discrimination, harassment and violence occurring as a result of exploiting a position of dependence at a place of training, work or study, under possible threat of personal or professional disadvantage, are to be viewed as particularly grievous.

3. Measures and sanctions against sexual discrimination, harassment and violence

  1. Anyone affected is urged to not accept sexual discrimination, harassment and violence, to make their refusal to accept such behavior clear and actively defend themselves against it.  They shall be informed of their right to report and complain.
  2. Anyone affected can contact the women's representatives or members of the Staff Council directly. They are there to offer guidance and support and are sworn to secrecy.
  3. Responsibility for receiving complaints lies with all persons with leadership or supervisory roles as part of their duty of care. Details are regulated in the procedural guidelines.
    Women's representatives are to be promptly informed and brought in, unless the affected party objects. Additionally there is the option to include members of the Staff Council in the process.
  4. The name of the person filing the complaint may not be made public. The person filing the complaint can appoint a representative, should they wish their anonymity to be guaranteed.
    The identity of the affected person may only be disclosed to the prosecuting authority or the disciplining authority when a legal obligation to do so exists.
    Should formal measures (see paragraph 7) be taken, the accused  is only to be informed of the name of the person filing the complaint when absolutely required for a proper statement and defense. 
  5. Technische Universität Berlin ensures that neither the party filing the complaint nor their representatives suffer a personal disadvantage or a disadvantage regarding training or career as a result. 
  6. The right of affected persons to defend themselves against sexually discriminating behavior without the involvement of the University authorities, either alone or with the aid of a representative, remains unaffected.
  7. The nature of the measures taken and sanctions imposed should make it absolutely clear that the University tolerates no forms of discrimination, harassment or violence. Possible formal measures to be pursued through the involvement of  the Executive  Board or the women's representatives or other bodies with responsibility include:
  • holding an official meeting, 
  • a verbal or written caution,
  • a written warning,
  • dismissal with or without notice,
  • introduction of a disciplinary procedure culminating in termination of employment as a civil servant,
  • relocation to another place of work,
  • dismissal from teaching contracts,
  • exclusion from a course,
  • exclusion from the use of  University facilities,
  • being banned from TU Berlin premises,
  • a criminal complaint submitted by the president.
  1. Conditions and procedures for individual sanctions are governed on a case-to-case basis by the relevant legal provisions.
    Responsibility for the introduction and implementation of all formal procedures lies with the Executive Board of the University.
    Details are regulated in the procedural Guidelines.

4. Taking of effect and applicable law

  1. The guidelines take effect from the day of their publication in the official gazette (Amtliches Mitteilungsblatt) of TU Berlin.
  2. The guidelines supplement the regulations contained in:
  • The Labor Act (Beschäftigungsschutzgesetz) of 24.6.1995,  
  • The Equal Opportunities Act of the Federal State of Berlin (Landesgleichstellungsgesetz) of 31.12.1990,
  • The Berlin State Higher Education Act (Berliner Hochschulgesetz) of 1.9.1993 and
  • TU Berlin Guidelines for the Advancement of Women (Frauenförderrichtlinien) of 1.9.1993.
In order to implement the Guidelines for Protection Against Sexual Discrimination, Harassment, and Violence  (hereinafter referred to as Guidelines), the following procedural guidelines were adopted together with said Guidelines by the Academic Senate under 4/546 on 10.02.99.

Complaints of sexual discrimination, harassment, and violence are treated in strict confidence and are managed, reviewed, and, if applicable, sanctioned by the responsible persons within TUB in the following steps.

1. Receipt of complaints (see number 3.3 of the Guidelines)

All individuals with management or supervisory responsibilities are responsible for receiving complaints. These include

If possible, the complaint should be made anonymously.
Number 3.6 of the Guidelines remains unaffected.

2. Guidance discussion

The person receiving the complaint advises the complainant (the person issuing the complaint) and explains the procedure.

3. Legal counseling

The person receiving the complaint seeks counsel without delay from the responsible administrative unit (Student Services, Legal Affairs Section, Department of Human Resources and Legal Affairs) concerning further legal steps. The name of the complainant is not revealed.

4. Continuation of the process

The person receiving the complaint informs the complainant of the outcome of the legal counseling stage without delay. The complainant decides whether formal action is to be pursued. In this case, the individual contacts TUB management (vice president for administration, Executive Board), if needed together with or represented by the person who received the complaint.

5. Review and initiation of measures

In consultation with the relevant departments of the Central University Administration, TUB management reviews the need for measures pursuant to number 3.7 of the Guidelines and executes these without delay.

The unit responsible for legal measures is

The complainant is entitled to be informed of the status of the procedure.

6. Statistics, Prevention

All individuals who have received a complaint are required to submit a report to the main women’s representative once a year under observation of the applicable data protection provisions. The report must contain the following data:

  1. TUB affiliation of the person issuing the complaint
  2. TUB affiliation of the person accused of the offense
  3. Severity of the incident (verbal and electronic harassment, physical harassment up to and including rape) 
  4. Where the incident occurred (e.g. lecture hall, lecturer’s offices, public space on campus)
  5. Number of complaints which
    a. led to measures being taken pursuant to the Guidelines,
    b. were discontinued by TUB management after review
  6. Time required for receiving the complaint and managing the proceedings
  7. Number of complaints in terms of number 3.5 of the Guidelines

The women’s representatives and staff councils develop the evaluation criteria with the aim of planning preventative measures. The University management provides the funds and means necessary to achieve this. The staff councils are included in the evaluation.

7. Evaluation

For the first time, representatives of the women’s representative and staff councils are to evaluate after a period of two years, and with the help of an independent external expert, whether and how the process can be designed more purposefully with the aim of encouraging complaints, preventing disadvantages arising from complaints, and avoiding sexual discrimination, harassment, and violence at TUB.

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