What Sexual Harassment Is

sexual harrassment

What sexual harassment is – including the verbal, visual, and physical conduct that could be considered harassment

Sexual harassment is the topic that has been making global headlines lately.  Scandal has hit Hollywood with some big hitters in the industry facing sexual harassment allegations and Australia’s own acting industry coming under siege with Aussie acting icons facing allegations. But despite the awareness that this behaviour is not okay, individuals are still being subjected to sexually harassing behaviour at work.

Sexual harassment can have a significant and detrimental effect on a workplace and a person’s well-being.  Every person has the right to be safe and work within a harassment free environment.

State and Commonwealth laws, through legislation such as the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld) and the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth), provide that sexual harassment and discrimination on the basis of sex is unlawful.

So what is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is conduct of a sexual nature that is unwelcome or unsolicited and that a reasonable person would anticipate in the circumstances that the person being harassed would be offended, humiliated or intimidated.

Sexual harassment does not have to be deliberate or repeated to be illegal. Sexual harassment can be verbal, physical or visual.  Sexual harassment like sexual assault or indecent exposure is a criminal offence.  Other behaviour that is sexual harassment can be more subtle.

So what are the types of acts that may be considered sexual harassment?

The following are examples of sexual harassment:

  • displaying pornographic material – posters, photos, website, emails or videos in the workplace;
  • indecent or explicit comments about your appearance;
  • gestures that are sexual, staring at a person or whistling;
  • touching, groping, pinching or hugging a person, trying to take a colleague’s clothes off – such as unzipping a uniform;
  • exposing a person’s genitals;
  • banter that is insulting and/or demeaning;
  • intrusive questions about a person’s private life or body;
  • unnecessary familiarity, such as deliberately brushing up against a person;
  • sending sexually explicit text messages, emails or phone calls to a person; and
  • being subjected to a “boys club” atmosphere where you have to hear sexual comments made to other employees in the workplace.

Sexual harassment at work is unlawful. Your employer has an obligation to ensure you are not sexually harassed at work, such as implementing policies and procedures to create a harassment free workplace and processes on how your employer deals with any complaints.  Not only the person who sexually harasses you, but your employer can also be held responsible if you are sexually harassed at work.

If you are being sexually harassed at work, call Anderson Gray now.  We are here to help you.