What can be classified as workplace sexual harassment?
Are you experiencing feelings of humiliation, intimidation or stress as a result of unwelcome sexual behaviour from work colleagues? Are you unsure if these feelings are the product of sexual harassment at work? Or even what constitutes as sexual harassment at work? As perceptions of workplace sexual harassment differ between individuals, Learning Seat is here to set the record straight and classify exactly what workplace sexual harassment is.
Sexual harassment is any unwanted sexual behaviour which makes makes a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. In order for behaviour to be considered sexual harassment, it must be unwanted.
According to the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) sexual harassment can take place in many different forms. It can be verbal or physical, obvious or indirect, repeated or one-off and either perpetrated by either males or females, acting in groups or individually against the same or opposite sex.
Instances of sexual harassment may include unwelcome:
- Sexual behaviour aimed at you or in your presence including suggestive jokes, comments or insults of a sexual nature
- Sexual advances involving either touching or brushing up against you, staring, unwanted requests to go out on dates, or any sort of sexual request
- Intrusive questions or statements about your personal life
- Sending SMS messages, emails of an explicit sexual nature or inappropriate advancements on social networking sites
Any behaviour of a sexual nature which consensual or mutual, such as friendship or interaction, is not sexual harassment. So, flirting with another person is not considered to be sexual harassment if there is consent given, or if there is an established mutual feeling.
Despite a nationwide acceptance of anti-sexual harassment following outlawing sex discrimination over 30 years ago, it still remains a problem in today’s society. Sex discrimination is very much apparent and it occurs when a particular person is treated less favourably than another person because of their sex. Although sexual harassment differs from sex discrimination, it falls under a type of sex discrimination, and therefore, [in some circumstances] is lawfully bound under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth). This act ensures protection from sexual harassment between individuals across various of areas of employment, education and accommodation.
Generally speaking, most of us associate sexual harassment with women as targets, especially in a workplace environment. Supporting this generalisation, the AHRC found 1 in 5 women report experiencing some form of sexual harassment in their workplace, in their work lifetime, compared to that of 1 in 20 men. Such disproportionate figures indicate either a larger awareness amongst women for sexual harassment or simply women are more vulnerable to sexual harassment in the workplace.
Here at Learning Seat we offer a range of online adaptive learning training courses for sexual harassment and employee interaction in the workplace. These courses not only address signs of sexual harassment and preventive measures but provide ways to take action if there is workplace sexual harassment present in your workplace. Online courses include How to Behave at Work Parties- Compliance, Sexual Harassment in the Workplace- The S.A.F.E Files, New Zealand Sexual Harassment In the Workplace- Compliance Training Course, Sexual Harassment- Adaptive Learning and Sexual Harassment- Compliance Training Course.