This week, the district court ordered Leikfélag Reykjavíkur (the Reykjavik City Troupe), which operates the Reykjavík City Theatre (Borgarleikhúsið); and Kristín Eysteinsdóttir, Director of the Reykjavík City Theatre, to pay actor Atli Rafn Sigurðsson ISK 5.5 million on the grounds of wrongful termination and defamation. Sigurðsson was fired in December 2017 – two weeks before the premiere of the play Medea, in which Sigurðsson was to play a leading role – following accusations of sexual harassment. Eysteinsdóttir declined to comment on the decision, referring the matter to her and the theatre’s lawyer, Sigurður Örn Hilmarsson.
Hilmarsson will be appealing the ruling on behalf of his clients, believing that the decision will engender “uncertainty” among employers, RÚV reports: “Our decision to appeal is two-fold. On the one hand, my clients disagree with the court’s decision. On the other hand, my clients feel that the ruling creates uncertainty regarding the duties of employers and managers in cases where the safety and well-being of their employees are compromised,” Hilmarsson stated, who is surprised by the court’s decision.
“Yes, we’re surprised. First and foremost because the court’s ruling does not, in my clients’ opinion, consider the interests of other employees, i.e. to those individuals who complained about sexual harassment and who experienced discomfort in the workplace. They confided in their employers and their interests were not considered in the ruling. Instead, the interests of a single employee took precedence.” Hilmarsson believes that the case is a test case for accusations of this kind.
Yesterday, Vísir reported that the Reykjavík City Theatre will continue to honour the confidentiality of Sigurðsson’s accusers when the case is heard before the Land’s Court (Landsréttur). The Land’s Court is a mid-tier court handling cases in between the District Courts and the Supreme Court of Iceland.