Sexual harassment overview for workers
SEXUAL HARASSMENT IS NOT PART OF YOUR JOB
What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment takes many forms, and is not always as obvious as unwanted physical touching or groping.
Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual action or behaviour which makes your staff feel uncomfortable, threatened, offended, humiliated and/or intimidated.
The examples below come from experiences shared by your fellow hospitality workers in a recent survey on sexual harassment that United Voice undertook:
• Sexually suggestive comments and jokes:
“How do you get that arse in that skirt?”
• Offensive language and imagery, including pornography, sexual text messages, phone calls and/or emails:
“My boss tried to make a $100 bet on what colour underwear I was wearing.”
• Asking inappropriate personal questions and comments on your physical appearance:
”My boss would always ask me uncomfortable questions regarding my sex life.”
• Stalking, intimidation and inappropriate staring:
“I had men grab my arse, come around the bar and get too close.”
“My manager followed me into the women’s bathrooms.”
“Customers would make me feel very uncomfortable by making inappropriate sexual jokes and looking me up and down.”
• Unwelcome advances and inappropriate physical touching:
“He would often corner us and undo our aprons by tearing down the front or back.”
“He said he had been looking at my arse all night. Another guy ran his hand up my leg as I walked past.”
Sexual harassment doesn’t have to be ongoing acts or behaviour — a single incident still constitutes sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment can happen regardless of the sex, sexual orientation or gender identity of the victim or perpetrator.
Where can sexual harassment happen?
Sexual harassment can happen at work, at work-related events, between people sharing the same workplace, and between colleagues outside of work.
Sexual harassment can be perpetrated by anyone that you come into contact with through your work. This
includes colleagues, managers, clients, customers, patients and students. It also includes people who don’t
work at your workplace, such as delivery personnel, site visitors and intruders.
Everyone has the right to feel safe at work.
Sexual harassment is against the law and is a serious OHS hazard which causes significant physical and emotional injury to staff.
What can I do if I’m being sexually harassed?
- If you feel safe, you can raise the issues directly with the person harassing you and let them know that their behaviour is not ok.
- You can make a complaint to your manager or employer who has a responsibility under the law
to make sure that you are safe at work.
- Contact your local community legal centre for legal advice - find one here
- Contact 1800 RESPECT for telephone and online counselling, information and referral.
- Contact the Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission for information or to make a complaint. Find out more about making a complaint here
- Join our Respect Is The Rule Facebook group - a space where hospo workers can come together, speak out
and stand up for safety and respect at work. You can volunteer on the campaign here.
- Resources for employers can be found here - including our Respect Is The Rule Pledge.
This information comes from the Women’s Unit at the Victorian Trades Hall Council.