What is sexual harassment?
Under Australian law, sexual harassment is behaviour that would make a reasonable person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. An alleged harasser’s intention behind their behaviour is irrelevant.
Sexual harassment can be an unwelcome:
Request for sexual favours
Conduct of a sexual nature
Sexual harassment may be a one-off incident. It doesn’t have to be obvious, repeated or continuous behaviour. It can be any unwanted or unwelcome sexual behaviour that makes a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. It may include physical or verbal acts such as inappropriate advances, intrusive questions, inappropriate comments, staring, touching, sexually explicit messages, requests for sex or unwanted date requests, physical assault, indecent exposure and stalking.
If you experienced sexual harassment outside of the workplace our mental, physical and sexual abuse team are here to help.
Sexual harassment at work
A survey by the Australian Human Rights Commission shows that one in three Australian workers have been sexually harassed at work in the last five years. Examples of sexual harassment in the workplace may include:
Physical behaviour such as staring, touching, indecent exposure or stalking
Verbal behaviour such as intrusive questions about your body, inappropriate or suggestive comments, inappropriate jokes, requests for sex or unwanted date requests
Online behaviour such as sexually explicit messages, or sharing inappropriate images or videos via email or social media
Activities such as displaying sexual images or content in the workplace
A person may be sexually harassed at work by for example:
Co-workers or colleagues
Managers or supervisors
Clients or customers
Visitors to your workplace
Sub-contractors or employees on a shared worksite
You may also not be the subject of sexual harassment at work, but witness it, for example if co-workers are sharing inappropriate content in your presence.
Sexual harassment outside the workplace
Sexual harassment can happen in the workplace as well as in public and private settings such as schools, universities, sporting teams, online or over the phone. If you’ve been sexually harassed outside the workplace, our mental, physical and sexual abuse team can help. Find out more here.
Who is responsible for sexual harassment in the workplace?
The alleged harasser is responsible for their own behaviour in the workplace. However, under Australian law, sometimes employers can be held responsible for their employees’ sexual harassment at work.
All employers have a positive duty to actively prevent sexual discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace, rather than only responding after it occurs. The Australian Human Rights Commission has regulatory power under national sex discrimination law to investigate and enforce compliance with this positive duty.
What injuries can you claim for sexual harassment at work?
If you’ve been sexually harassed at work there’s a risk:
That you’re prevented from fully and equally engaging or completing your required duties
Of mental injury such as stress, depression or anxiety
Of physical injury, particularly where sexual harassment occurs alongside other anti-social workplace behaviours or escalates over time
Our harassment lawyers can help with your claim for workers’ compensation.
Your compensation is related to the circumstances of your sexual harassment at work, your injuries and the evidence available.
A successful claim may involve compensation for:
Loss of wages
Cost of medical and/or rehabilitation treatment
Pain and suffering
Loss of enjoyment of life
How long will it take?
The timing of your claim depends on:
Your injury or injuries
The medical and/or rehabilitation treatment you’ll need
Getting the best harassment lawyers for legal advice as quickly as possible is critical, especially due to strict time limitations for loading workers’ compensation claims.
Ensuring everyone has access to justice is important to us.
That’s why we provide our workplace sexual harassment lawyers’ services on a No Win, No Fee* basis. This means you won’t have to worry about any out-of-pocket legal fees unless we receive a successful outcome for you.
Additional employment claim types
Our team of workplace sexual assault lawyers will help you understand the compensation options available to you in more detail. Depending on your circumstances and experience of sexual harassment in the workplace, you may also be eligible for:
You may be entitled to claim compensation. Start the process with our simple and free online tool.
What we will ask:
Details about your employment issue and how you may be impacted
Basic personal information that is relevant and necessary for your case
What happens next:
We'll connect you with a compensation law expert right away if you're eligible or,
Speak with our team about your options
Sexual harassment case process
We listen and assess your case confidentially
During an obligation-free initial consultation we’ll take the time to listen and understand your individual needs. We will fully explain the legal process to you so that you understand your rights and feel in control.
We’ll build your case and keep you informed
Your go-to legal team will work with you to gather all the evidence needed to support your claim. All evidence will be considered so we can assess your options and provide guidance tailored to your specific situation.
We’ll negotiate to settle your case early
This may be through civil litigation or directly approaching the institution concerned to engage in informal negotiations outside of the court process.
We know that you’ve been through enough. Wherever possible we will endeavour to find alternatives to the stress and expense of traditional litigation and will explore with institutions methods of resolving your case that are more sensitive to your needs.
If required, go to court
Only a small percentage of cases result in a court hearing. If this happens, we will be by your side; providing support, compassion and skilled legal representation every step of the way.
We will also seek to minimise the stress and inconvenience of the process wherever possible.
Resolve your case
We will fight to deliver the outcomes you deserve.
Seeking support and advice if you’re experiencing sexual harassment
The Australian Human Rights Commission website has a lot of material on sexual harassment and what you can do, along with a helpline for situations that may have become abusive and violent.
Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence National Help Line: 1800 Respect (1800 737 732)
Information on sexual harassment and making a sexual harassment complaint: https://humanrights.gov.au/complaints/complaint-guides/information-people-making-complaints/complaints-under-sex-discrimination-act
If you are a survivor of childhood abuse or trauma the Blue Knot Foundation provides support on 1300 657 380.
What you can do if you’re being sexually harassed at work
If you’re being sexually harassed at work, as with workplace bullying, there are a number of things you can do to protect your rights:
Keep a diary of each time you are sexually harassed at work
If you don’t already have one, request a copy of your employment contract and of any workplace policies relevant to occupational health and safety and harassment.
Talk to someone in your workplace about the sexual harassment you’ve experienced – this could be a colleague, your manager or a union representative
Make a formal complaint to your manager or employer (or according to your workplace harassment policy)
Seek appropriate physical or mental health care from your GP or psychologist or other healthcare provider
Request medical certificates or psychological reports from your health professionals as these are important in supporting your claim for sexual harassment in the workplace compensation
At any stage, you can consult a worker's compensation harassment lawyer, from the earliest (or only) instance of sexual harassment at work.
We're here to help
How to report sexual harassment?
If you have been sexually harassed at work, you can make a complaint via email or telephone to the Australian Human Rights Commission (Commonwealth) or the Human Rights/Equal Opportunities Commission in your state or territory. This is free and easy to do
The Australian Human Rights Commission’s accessibility contact options are detailed here
Workplace sexual harassment may also be classed as workplace bullying and may be dealt with by the workplace safety authority in your state or territory
Can I represent myself, or do I need a sexual harassment lawyer?
It is possible to legally represent yourself when making a sexual harassment at work compensation claim however, doing so successfully will likely require a thorough understanding of the law, your legal rights and entitlements, and a commitment to actively pursuing the case to move it forward.
Most people choose to engage an expert sexual harassment lawyer who can provide the knowledge and experience required to help guide a harassment claim to a successful outcome.
Why trust Shine to be my sexual harassment lawyers?
At Shine Lawyers, we put you first. We’ve been standing up for the rights of every day Australians for over 45 years. We have helped thousands of Australians right wrong and access more than $1 billion per year in entitlements and compensation through our expert services.
95% of the cases we represent are settled without the stress of going to court.
We offer access to affordable legal advice including on a No Win, No Fee* basis and an obligation-free initial consultation so you can understand your rights and know where you stand.
Our empathy, understanding and expertise are why we’re ahead of the pack. We’ll stand with you and guide you through every step of the sexual harassment at work claim process.
Where are the sexual harassment lawyers from Shine located?
With more than 40 branches across Australia and 1000+ team members, location is no barrier when it comes to accessing Shine Lawyers’ sexual harassment in the workplace legal advice and support.
If you’d like to speak to our sexual harassment legal team in person, you can see our full list of locations here.
If you can’t find a location near you, we can easily arrange an obligation-free virtual appointment or discuss the option to meet at a location that’s comfortable and convenient for you. No matter where you are located, we will always provide the same, expert advice and manage your sexual harassment at work claim with the same level of quality, understanding and commitment.