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Sexual harassment at work: The signs and what to do

Sexual harassment in the workplace can effect employees across varying workplaces and industries. It can be very damaging to the work environment and performance of affected employees and bystanders.

The Australian Human Rights Commission defines sexual harassment as an unwelcome sexual advance, unwelcome request for sexual favours or other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature which makes a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated, where a reasonable person would anticipate that reaction in the circumstances.

Signs of harassment

Forms of sexual harassment behaviour:

  • Touching
  • Inappropriate staring or leering
  • Text messages or emails that contain sexual content
  • Unwanted invitations to go on dates
  • Requests for sex
  • Probing questions about personal life or body
  • Sexually explicit verbal communication (insults, jokes etc…)

What are your options?

If you are a victim of workplace sexual harassment you have several courses of action;

  • If you feel comfortable to do so, ask the person that is making you uncomfortable to stop
  • Reach out to your manager or HR to discuss the behaviour
  • Lodge a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission
  • Contact a solicitor to mediate on your behalf

Experiencing this form of harassment at work can make you feel isolated and embarrassed but you’re not alone. According to the national sexual harassment campaign, Know The Line, 25% of women experience sexual harassment in the workplace with only 1 in 5 actually reporting it.

Coming to terms with abuse can be a very difficult process. While no amount of money can take away the harm the abuse may have caused you, compensation may be available and can help you to obtain the support you need to help you through this difficult time.

If you are an abuse survivor, you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation.

If you need support urgently you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Written by Shine Lawyers on . Last modified: September 6, 2017.

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