It has recently been reported the results from a Human Rights Commission Survey that one in five workers have encountered sexual harassment in the past five years. The survey revealed that rates of reporting the harassment have risen from 16% in 2008 to 20% in 2012.
The Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, says she is concerned as despite efforts over the past 5 years, the Human Rights Commission hasn’t really made much of a dent.
Lisa Aitken, Managing Partner of Aitken Legal, says that she has also seen an increase in sexual harassment complaints over the last couple of years.
“Some workplaces may have a rather relaxed, fun-loving …. Possibly even (what they may consider to be) a playful flirtatious culture and this is a very dangerous line for an employer to walk. If someone takes it a little too far and offends the other person; or the fun-loving relationship turns sour for some reason, the employer could find themselves faced with a sexual harassment complaint. The relationship should be professional at all times”
In most cases, businesses may not even be aware of what is actually classified as sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual Harassment can be classified as:
· Unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature which offends, humiliates or intimidates
· It is reasonably anticipated that the target would feel offended, humiliated or intimidated
· Unwelcome hugging, kissing, cornering, sexually explicit texts, emails and social media comments
· Unwelcome sexual physical contact such as touching, kissing, fondling
· Intrusive questions about the persons sex life or personal life.
If your business would like further information on Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Workplace Bullying, Aitken Legal is holding a free Employment Law Briefing on Monday 26 November at their offices. For more information please visit www.aitkenlegal.com.au or phone (07) 5413 4000.