What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is any unwanted or unwelcomed sexual behaviour where a reasonable person would have anticipated the possibility that the person harassed would feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. It has nothing to do with mutual attraction or consensual behaviour,
Examples of sexual harassment include:
- Unwelcomed touching, hugging or kissing
- Staring or leering
- Suggestive comments or jokes
- Sexually explicit pictures, screen savers or posters
- Unwanted invitations to go out on dates or requests for sex
- Intrusive questions about employees private life or body
- Unnecessary familiarity
- Insults based on your sex
- Sexually explicit emails or SMS messages
- Accessing sexually explicit internet sites
- Behaviour that would also be an offence under the criminal law, such as physical assault, indecent exposure, sexual assault, stalking or obscene communications
Sexual Harassment is unlawful under the Sex Discrimination Act in different areas of public life, including employment, service delivery, accommodation and education. Some types of sexual harassment may also be criminal offences.
A person who sexually harasses someone is primarily responsible for their behaviour. However, in many cases employers can also be held responsible for sexual harassment by their employees. This is called ‘vicarious liability’.
Employers have a responsibility to take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment in employment, such as implementing a sexual harassment policy and providing training or information on sexual harassment.
Managing Sexual Harassment
Workplaces can help prevent sexual harassment by:
- Creating a safe physical and online working environment
- Providing information, instruction, training ad support about the importance of preventing and addressing sexual harassment in the workplace
- Addressing unwanted or offensive behaviour early
- Encouraging reporting of sexual harassment and having effective complaints procedures
Sexual harassment in the course of employment is considered serious misconduct and can be a valid reason for dismissal.
Understand your options
Below are some options you could consider, these do not need to be followed in the order set out. We at Alegna Solutions Psychology Practice recommend booking with us to help understand and work through what is currently happening:
- Check your workplace policy
- Talk to the other person
- Seek assistance
- Make a formal complaint at work
Should you access support services?
Yes! – Sexual Harassment is not just a legal issues – it can affect your health and well-being. Booking a visit with us at Alegna Solutions Psychology Practice can help. We can be a comforting place to go and talk to about your struggles with sexual harassment and give you advice on what to do next. We can help you navigate the path to overcome sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can be extremely stressful especially if you are being harassed by a manager or other higher up, come talk to us at your earliest convenience, as you don’t have to go through this alone.