Examples of sexual harassment at work

Sexual harassment harms workers. 

It can happen at any time and at all levels of a business. Sexual harassment can be spoken or written, visual or physical acts. It can occur in person, through text messaging, or online through email, internet chat rooms or other social media channels.

The six scenarios below provide examples of what sexual harassment may look like at work, in terms of:

  • Scenario 1: sexual remarks or jokes
  • Scenario 2: implied or actual threats of being overlooked for work opportunities or promotion, if you say no to your boss’s advances
  • Scenario 3: unwelcome touching, patting, or pinching by your boss, co-worker or customer
  • Scenario 4: regular hassling for a date or being followed home by a co-worker
  • Scenairo 5: sexually offensive images, including screen savers of a sexual nature
  • Scenario 6: intrusive questions about your sex life.

Below is an example of what sexual harassment, in the form of - sexual remarks or jokes, may look like at work.

Sarah works as a traffic controller in a road construction crew. During breaks, her co-workers often make offensive sexual gestures, remarks and jokes which makes Sarah uncomfortable and distressed.

Note: in this example Sarah’s co-workers behaviour could be considered sexual harassment because the behaviour is unwelcome and offensive, it’s repeated and having a harmful effect on Sarah. 

You can find further information for workers and businesses below.

Below is an example of what sexual harassment, in the form of - implied or actual threats of being overlooked for work opportunities or promotion if you say no to your boss’s advances, may look like at work.

Doug has been working as an analyst for three years at his company. At a recent work function his boss Helen made inappropriate advances towards Doug which he rebuffed. The next week Doug was called into a meeting with Helen after hours and told that if he wasn’t ok with her behaviour he would never advance within the company.

Note: in this example Helen’s behaviour would be considered sexual harassment because she has implied that Doug will be overlooked for work opportunities for promotion because he declined her inappropriate advances.

You can find further information for workers and businesses below.

Below is an example of what sexual harassment, in the form of – unwelcome touching, patting, or pinching by your boss, co-worker or customer, may look like at work.

Marama works at a local café. Rhys, a regular customer, often greets Marama by trying to give her a hug which makes her uncomfortable. Recently, Rhys’s behaviour escalated when he inappropriately pinched Marama as she walked past the table he was sitting at. 

Note: in this example Rhys’s behaviour would be considered sexual harassment because he has touched Marama in an inappropriate and unwelcome way. 

You can find further information for workers and businesses below.

 

Below is an example of what sexual harassment, in the form of – regular hassling for a date or being followed home by a co-worker, may look like at work.

Stacey and Nikau work at a retail store. When Nikau first started they went out on a date but decided that they wouldn’t take things any further after that. Recently Stacey started pressuring Nikau to go out on another date even though he now has a partner. He has also noticed her car parked on the street outside his house and that she waits for him to go out to “bump” into him. 

Note: in this example Stacey’s behaviour may be considered sexual harassment as she is regularly hassling Nikau for a date and following him home from work even though he does not feel the same way and has a current partner.

You can find further information for workers and businesses below.

Below is an example of what sexual harassment, in the form of – sexually offensive images, including screen savers of a sexual nature, may look like at work.

Mick, a local mechanic, has recently hired a new young receptionist Abigail. Abigail’s desk is next to Micks and she notices that his screen saver is a series of degrading images of women. Mick knows this makes Abigail uncomfortable but refuses to change it.

Note: in this example Mick’s behaviour would be considered sexual harassment as he is deliberately making Abigail feel uncomfortable by having sexually offensive images on his computer screen saver.

You can find further information for workers and businesses below.

Below is an example of what sexual harassment, in the form of – intrusive questions about your sex life, may look like at work.

Aziz works as a builder in a construction crew. His co-worker Harold often brings up Aziz’s wife during their breaks and asks rude and intrusive questions in front of other co-workers about Aziz’s sex life. This make Aziz feel uncomfortable and upset.

Note: in this example Harold’s behaviour would be considered sexual harassment as he is deliberately making Aziz feel uncomfortable by asking rude and intrusive questions about Aziz’s sex life.

You can find further information for workers and businesses below.

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