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Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment means any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, where is it reasonable to expect that the other person would be offended, afraid or humiliated.

Both men and women can sexually harass and be harassed by either sex.

Sexual harassment is determined from the point of view of the person feeling harassed. It does not matter how the behaviour was intended. What matters is its effect on the other person.

Sexual harassment can be:

  • unwelcome touching or kissing
  • commenting on a person's appearance
  • comments, jokes or name-calling
  • leering or staring
  • sexual pictures, objects, emails, text messages or literature
  • direct or implied propositions, or requests for dates
  • asking about a person's sexual history or sexual activities.

Mutual attraction or friendship with consent is not sexual harassment.


Men in a maintenance crew put up erotic posters in their work area. Women maintenance workers were not worried but Jan, a clerk from the main office, was offended by the posters which remained on the walls despite her complaints. Jan could claim she was sexually harassed by the maintenance workers.


Jack, who worked in a government department, regularly touched and put his arm around Amy. He would also share his sexual thoughts even though she asked him to stop. When she complained, Jack said "it was all in good fun". Amy could claim she was sexually harassed by Jack.

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