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Public Defender Accuses Fresco of Gender Discrimination Expressed in Sexual Harassment

On December 4, 2017, the Public Defender of Georgia applied to Ltd Fresco with a recommendationconcerning gender discrimination expressed in sexual harassment.

The Public Defender started to study theexistence of hidden video cameras in women’s changing rooms at Fresco supermarket network on his own initiative. According to former employees of Fresco, changing rooms of all branches of the company are monitored through video cameras and the monitoring rooms can be accessed by men and any representative of the administration, including the guard and his deputy, who have access to the video recordings; At the same time, the management monitors the rooms even when they are not at the office, from their houses. According to Ltd Fresco, video cameras were installed only in women’s changing rooms in order to ensure safety norms.

The Public Defenderbelieves that video surveillance in the changing rooms unjustifiably interferes with the privacy of the employed women.

In the recommendation, the Public Defender notes that the changingroom in the workplace is separated from other rooms or common space in order to protect individuals’ intimate space and ensure that individuals’ bodies are not fully or partially displayed contrary to their will in the presence of other persons, regardless of their gender. The women employed in Ltd Fresco were deprived of this opportunity, as each of their actions in the workplace was controlled.

The Public Defender considered that the company's declared goal could not be considered legitimate, as the existing practicecreated insulting and humiliating environment for the employed women, unjustly controlled their personal space and grossly interfered with the intimate space.A similar approach of the company demonstrates disrespectful and degrading attitude towards female employees, which creates unhealthy working environment and enhances gender inequality.

Taking into account the abovementioned, the Public Defender found that Ltd Fresco discriminated female employees,in particular sexually harassed them, on grounds of gender, and called on the company to create appropriate working environment so that the dignity of the employed persons is respected.

It is noteworthy that the Personal Data Protection Inspectoralso imposed an administrative fine in the amount of GEL 2000 on the company for the mentioned violation and ordered the company to stop surveillance and completely destruct the already obtained recordings.

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