Sexual Harassment

Under the Human Rights Act 1993 two types of sexual harassment are prohibited. They are:

  1. Physical behaviour, language or visual material of a sexual nature, which is unwelcome or offensive, and either repeated or significant enough to have a detrimental effect on the person subjected to it.
  2. A request for sexual activity together with an implied or overt promise of preferential treatment or a threat of detrimental treatment.

Sexual harassment of either kind is unlawful when it occurs in any of the following areas:

  • Employment
  • Access to education
  • Access to public places, vehicles and facilities
  • Access to goods and services
  • Access to land, housing and accommodation
  • Industrial and professional associations, qualifying bodies and vocational training bodies
  • Business partnerships.

Sexual harassment should always be taken seriously because:

  • People don’t have to put up with sexual behaviour they don’t like
  • Sexual harassment is often repeated unless action is taken
  • Sexual harassment may affect people’s ability to work, study, access services or to feel comfortable in their school, tertiary institution or workplace
  • Sexual harassment affects self-esteem negatively and can cause health problems
  • Sexual harassment can cause major disruption to a workplace or business reputation
  • If employers do not take sufficient steps to prevent harassment occurring, they may be liable for the harassment carried out by their employees, or of their employees by their clients.

Read our sexual harassment guide here.