What is sexual harassment?

Everyone has the right to work in an environment in which they are not harassed, abused or discriminated against.

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment at work is any type of behaviour (verbal or physical) that has a sexual element about it, is unwelcome or not reciprocated, or can be understood to offend, humiliate and/or intimidate.

It can include:

  • Offensive messages by email or telephone
  • Unwanted or unnecessary physical contact
  • Intrusive questions about a person’s private life or sexuality
  • Leering and staring
  • Insults or taunts based on your sex

Harassment in the workplace can often lead to an employee feeling stressed, anxious, depressed or feeling unable to trust anybody at work.

“Sexual harassment is unacceptable, illegal and can be stopped.”

What to do if you’re being sexually harassed at work

  • Speak to your employer
  • Tell someone
  • Keep a diary of all events
  • Contact your union for advice

You may resolve the problem quickly if you speak to the person who is harassing you.

Make sure you’re informed on your organisation’s policies – all employers are obliged to provide a harassment free workplace. If they don’t, they may be held legally responsible for any acts of harassment committed by an employee. The employee can complain to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

(Source: Reach Out!, HREOC)


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