Precise Inevstigation
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Understanding workplace sexual harassment: Your rights and obligations

Sexual harassment is not welcome in any workplace and it is clearly defined as any unwelcome sexual behaviours that can be reasonably expected to make any person (regardless of gender) feel offended, humiliated or intimidated.

Sexual harassment can take multiple forms including physical, verbal, digital and written. These advances do not have to be at work or during work hours either.  They can be made at work-related events or between colleagues outside of work. Some examples include:

  • Any unnecessary physical contact or unnecessary familiarity
  • Suggestive, offensive or demeaning ‘jokes’ that can be verbal, emailed, sent via text or communicated in any other way
  • Staring or leering
  • Unwarranted or uncalled for comments or insinuation on a person’s private sexual activities or orientation.
  • Any suggestive comments about a colleague’s physical attributes
  • Indecent exposure
  • Comments that have sexual connotations or innuendo made to a third party about another person in the workplace

The consequences for the victim can be severe and include:

  • Stress, depression and anxiety;
  • Fear of coming into work or being in close proximity to the alleged perpetrator;
  • Relationship breakdowns;
  • An inability to sleep, eat or function in general;
  • An inability to work, and;
  • In the worst cases, suicidal thoughts

Employers may be liable for any compensation awarded to the victims, whilst the victim can also take legal action leading broader risk consequences for the company.

Alleged perpetrators will have the right to a formal investigation and interview process and there are major consequences if they are found to have engaged in sexual harassment of any kind, including dismissal and civil litigation from both the victim and the employer.

Employees have the right work in a sexual harassment-free environment

 Every worker has the right to a workplace free of sexual harassment, choose to engage in personal relationships with whoever they please and have the right to choose where and when they wish to engage in a personal relationship.

The Sex Discrimination Act covers sexual harassment and means that all employees have an obligation to provide a sexual harassment-free work environment and will be held responsible for their behaviour. Alleged perpetrators do have rights as well including the right to go through a formal complaint process, investigation and interviews conducted by their employer.

If this investigation process finds that sexual harassment has occurred, the respondent can be dismissed and may be liable for any compensation claims the employer needs to pay to the victim. This can involve multiple civil legal suits, as the victim also has the right to pursue this avenue as well.

As these cases are very sensitive and have the capacity to cause enormous harm to people’s health, wellbeing, brand and ability to be employed in the future they need to be conducted fairly and correctly. You can enlist the specialists at Precise Investigation to carry out your internal investigations and interviews to ensure that the rights and obligations of all parties involved are observed.

Click here to see more information.

For extra support or assistance with your case, please do not hesitate to contact us at or Tel: 03 9564 7303.

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