From Iceland — Fired Employee Sues Icelandic Energy Company That Ignored Her Harassment Claims

Fired Employee Sues Icelandic Energy Company That Ignored Her Harassment Claims

Published September 19, 2018

Photo by
Alísa Kalyanova

Áslaug Thelma Einarsdóttir announced on her Facebook page this week that she is planning to file a lawsuit after being fired for her repeated claims of sexual harassment against former Orku Nátt­úr­unn­ar (ON) CEO Bjarni Már Júlísson, Stundin reports. The company is a subsidiary of Reykjavík Energy, which is owned by the city government. Both companies are targets of the legal action. Bjarni Már was fired a week earlier over a single explicit email sent to employees, but Áslaug feels this was insufficient and believes the parent company’s CEO, Bjarni Bjarnason, was aware of a pattern of behaviour.

Her Facebook post states in part: “In a number of cases over 18 months, I commented on the conduct of this director to the Human Resources Director of Reykjavík Energy. This had to do with his conduct in public, and at meetings with clients and in private meetings he called my female colleagues inside and outside ON names that no one should use. He accused my subordinate of not being horny or organised enough when he tried openly in front of witnesses to ‘cure’ her of the illness of being single. Then, at one meeting, he accused me in front of the employee manager of flirting my way to a higher salary in talks with the previous managing director. Ergo: I wasn’t worth my salary and plainly that I was a prostitute. I could go on forever.”

More disturbing reports about Reykjavík Energy have been made by RÚV. Berglind Rán Ólafsdóttir is ON’s new CEO. Þorður Ásmundsson, a director within the company, was going to fill the position temporarily but accusations of serious sexual misconduct were brought to the board. According to additional reporting from RÚV, financial director Ingvar Stefánson was formally reprimanded for harassing women at a corporate event. He claims to have sought treatment for alcoholism and regrets his actions.

City Councilors Þórdís Lóa Þórhallsdóttir and Hildur Bjarnadóttir say they have received numerous stories of a culture of harassment at the company. Hildur sits on the board and called for a thorough investigation. She believes these are only the beginnings of revelations inside the company, and potentially Icelandic corporate culture in general. In response to these revelations, Bjarni Bjarnason voluntarily went on leave while a review of the office culture is conducted.

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