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What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment, according to the General Equal Treatment Act (AGG), is unwanted, sexually determined behaviour that violates the dignity of the affected person. Sexual harassment in the workplace can be linked to the abuse of power or intertwined with other forms of discrimination. Women, BIPOC, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and people with disabilities are particularly affected. Sexual harassment can occur in verbal, non-verbal, digital, or physical forms. Every form is legally prohibited in the workplace.
- Verbal: sexually suggestive jokes, intrusive or offensive comments
- Non-verbal: leering, catcalling, exhibitionism
- Digital: contact through messaging services, unwanted emails, images, audio recordings, or social media messages with sexualised content
- Physical: unwanted touching or physical violence
What types of discrimination does Themis advise on?
The AGG defines, in addition to the characteristic of gender, five other characteristics of disadvantage or discrimination. People can also be disadvantaged for the following reasons:
- Ethnic origin
- Religion or belief
- Disability
- Age
- Sexual identity
- Discrimination on the grounds of gender

These reasons often intersect with one another, resulting in multi-dimensional discrimination. The focus of our counselling is on sexual harassment and violence in the workplace. This is where our expertise lies and it is the mission of the founders. Our counsellors always have an intersectional perspective and consider possible intersections in the counselling sessions. Our statute stipulates that there must, at a minimum, be sexual harassment in the workplace for us to advise you. If this is not the case, we will refer you, wherever possible, to organisations in our support network.
How does an initial counselling session work with Themis?
During our telephone consultation hours, a legal expert or a psychologist from our team is available to you. The counsellor listens carefully to you and takes the time to categorise and clarify your situation together with you. They will help you plan the next steps. You can also arrange psychological and/or legal follow-up appointments. If necessary, we can also arrange for legal or psychological support from external contact points. Every step we take is coordinated with you – we do nothing without your explicit consent. If you wish, you can also remain anonymous.
How does a legal counselling session work with Themis?
We provide legal advice based on the AGG. The AGG prohibits discrimination, sexual harassment, or violence in the workplace. Employers are obligated to protect their employees from sexual harassment. During our counselling sessions, we listen to you carefully and discuss your situation. We will outline the possible legal steps for you. Our goal is for you to make an informed decision about the best course of action for you – with us by your side. For example, you can engage us to file a complaint under the AGG with your employer. If you wish to initiate criminal proceedings, assert social law claims, or make civil law claims, we will be happy to provide you with information about the relevant contact points.
How does a psychological counselling session work with Themis?
Our psychological counselling focuses on what is important to you. Our psychologists listen to you and prioritise your subjective wellbeing. Together, we work on handling the situation with care and making the right decision for you. Our goal is to build a trusting relationship with you and to stabilise and strengthen you. We teach you stabilisation, boundary-setting, or relaxation techniques. We also clarify the potential effects of sexual harassment. If necessary, we refer you to other psychosocial and psychotherapeutic contact points. You can come to us for up to ten psychological counselling sessions.
Do you advise all genders affected by sexual harassment?
Yes, we advise affected (cis) women and (cis) men as well as trans*, inter*, and non-binary individuals. This is because sexual harassment is discrimination based on gender according to the AGG. The AGG protects all people regardless of gender from harassment – even if those read as female are much more frequently affected by sexual harassment than other genders.
Do you also advise accused individuals?
No, we advise individuals who have experienced sexual harassment. Themis acts as an intermediary between affected individuals and employers in the culture and media sector. However, we do not mediate in the sense of a perpetrator-victim reconciliation. You can find all information and contact persons on the website of the Servicebüro für Täter-Opfer-Ausgleich und Konfliktschlichtung (DE):
Does Themis serve as a reporting agency?
No. As a counselling centre, we cannot "report" incidents of sexualised harassment and violence. We also do not maintain a database of suspicious behaviours, companies, or individuals – this is not allowed for legal and data-protection reasons. We document counselling processes in an anonymised statistical form. To a limited extent, this allows us to provide insights into the occurrence of sexualised harassment and violence in the culture and media industry. This contributes to making the frequency, nature, and severity of sexualised harassment and violence visible through statistical analysis.
What does Themis do about the abuse of power?
Abuse of power is a structural problem that still frequently occurs in the culture and media industry. This includes various ethically problematic behaviours. Influential individuals, positioned high in professional or artistic hierarchies, often behave disrespectfully and transgressively toward others. Abuse of power can include:
- Public humiliation
- Verbal degradation and insults
- Regular professional contact, even during leisure or illness
- Assigning tasks beyond the job description
- Regular and significant overtime and break time violations, up to sexualised assaults
- Coercion and physical violence
Abuse of power can be exercised by individuals or shape the entire corporate culture. It can be subtle and barely recognisable, or overtly expressed. Legal remedies against abuse of power are limited. Only a few behaviours can be addressed through AGG or criminal law means because only a portion and not all forms of abuse of power are prohibited. In our counselling activities, we support victims of abuse of power when it is accompanied by sexual harassment and violence. The demarcation can be difficult. Therefore, in an initial consultation, we determine whether the specific incident falls within our mandate. If it does not, we refer to an appropriate counselling centre.
Whose side Is Themis on?
Our counselling centre acts as an intermediary between the affected person and the employer in the culture and media industry. We are the first point of contact for people who have experienced sexual harassment or violence. Therefore, our primary task is to support these individuals, listen to them, and provide advice. We do nothing without the consent of the affected person. With the consent of the affected person, we initiate a dialogue with the employer. If requested, we act as the complainant against the company. We act impartially and neutrally.
How does Themis protect me, the affected person, from negative consequences?
If this is a concern, feel free to contact us anonymously. We will advise you even if we do not know who you are. After our counselling, you can weigh up the possible consequences and properly assess your situation. You will not be alone if you decide to give up your anonymity, for example, in filing a complaint with your employer. We will accompany you during the clarification of the matter and will always be by your side. Companies are usually willing to cooperate and benefit from this approach.
Does your counselling work lead to public accusations?
No, we are a confidential counselling centre. Our understanding is that of a confidential intermediary between the affected person and the employer. We assist the affected individuals in processes under the AGG to clarify the facts. We do not go public. This means that we never – even at the request of the affected individuals – disclose details or information about an incident to the public. We act exclusively in a counselling relationship with the affected individuals and with the consent of the employers.