The #MeToo movement has recently shined a light on the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace.
A recent study conducted by Shine Lawyers revealed that 19% of women surveyed had been sexually harassed at work.
The #MeToo movement has proven to give a voice to victims of unacceptable and unlawful behaviour, who in many circumstances have not been aware of their legal rights.
So what exactly does the law say about sexual harassment and what are my rights at work?
- The right to a safe workplace. All employees have the right to work in a safe workplace that is free from bullying, harassment and discrimination.
- The right not to be sexually harassed at work. All employees and contractors have the right not to be sexually harassed at work. Put simply, sexual harassment is unlawful and a breach of commonwealth and state anti-discrimination legislation.
What is sexual harassment?
There are three elements to sexual harassment:
- There must be conduct of a sexual nature.
There is a fairly broad spectrum of types of behaviour that can be considered conduct of a sexual nature and this includes:
- Sexual advances;
- Requests for sex or sexual favours;
- Comments of a sexual nature;
- Sexual based jokes or innuendo;
- Unwelcome touching or staring;
- Questions about your personal life;
- Sexual comments about your appearance or dress;
- Sexual assault;
- The display of sexually explicit material at work.
- The conduct must be unwelcome to you. Conduct that is consensual/reciprocated is not sexual harassment. There does not need to be a pattern of this type of behaviour and there does not need to be more than one incident. A single incident of the above can be sexual harassment.
- A reasonable person would have anticipated the possibility that the person would be offended, humiliated or intimidated by the sexual conduct. This means that it would be reasonable in all of the circumstances to expect that the person would feel offended, humiliated or offended by the conduct.
What can I do?
There are different time limits which may apply to your case, so you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. These time limits can be as soon as six months after the conduct occurred so it is important to obtain advice as soon as possible.
Written by Shine Lawyers on . Last modified: September 5, 2018.