Sexual harassment is a type of bullying. It includes things like:
- touching or kissing someone
- making comments or jokes of a sexual nature
- showing or sending pornographic pictures
- emails, texts or other messages with sexual content
- repeated requests for dates
- questions or comments about a person's sexual activity.
These behaviours are considered sexual harassment if they make the other person feel scared or upset and it’s reasonable for them to feel that way. It doesn’t matter whether the behaviour was meant as harassment or whether it was meant as a compliment or as a joke.
The law also covers you if a customer or client sexually harasses you at work. So if you were working in a café, for example, and a customer makes inappropriate sexual comments to you, you should do something. If you complain to a manager, the manager has to make sure it stops. If you experience sexual harassment at work, you can contact us for advice.
Sexual harassment at work is illegal. Some sexual harassment, such as touching without permission, can also be a criminal offence. The police can prosecute the offender.
Sexual harassment example
Casey worked as a receptionist in a real estate firm, where most of the sales staff were out a lot. At times, it was only her and the owner, Josh, at the workplace. On these occasions, Josh would come up behind her and give her a hug or a pat, or sometimes ask her to kiss him.
This gave Casey the creeps but she was scared to say no in case Josh sacked her.