The right to report harassment

A young athlete reported in confidence to the head of the school that they had been sexually harassed as a minor and received a defamation complaint from the coach demanding compensation.

The case raised important questions about the reporting of sexual harassment, the protection of victims and legal consequences in Estonia. Victims of sexual harassment should be able to report incidents without fear of defamation complaints or other negative consequences. In the Estonian legal system, defamation cases are adjudicated in civil court, where the victim of harassment has to testify in the presence of the harasser. This practice is objectionable and can re-victimise the victim by hindering the reporting of harassment.

Tartu District Court ruled that defamation sections do not apply if the harassment incident is reported to the head of the school. Tartu Circuit Court sent the case back to the county court to be considered anew. The dispute is ongoing.

The client is represented by attorney-at-law Meris Velling (Law Firm Liverte).

Read the detailed information of the case in Estonian.

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