Sexual Harassment - Its just not on!

Sexual Harassment is a disturbing part of employment life in the modern era and is unacceptable! From junior clerk to boardroom it continues on in its various guises from seemingly harmless fun to stalking.

In most countries there is comprehensive legislation that clearly prohibits this form of behaviour and puts business and individuals on notice that sexual harassment will not be tolerated.

In the past many female workers were intimidated by these behaviours however, this has changed dramatically with many standing up for their rights and drawing a line in the sand. Rightly so! However, be aware that sexual harassment has progressed to a genderless issue.

In assisting business deal with sexual harassment it has been my experience that this type of behaviour is very damaging to the individual victim and the business.

When someone complains to you that they are experiecing sexual harassment in the workplace it is important to ensure that the complaint is in writing and signed.

It is equally important that you keep in mind that the person who is alledged to have engaged in sexual harassment has rights.

It is important to keep in mind that it is not what you say or do that is the determinant of sexual harassment alone, rather, how the other person perceives your actions or comments is a critical factor in determining sexual harassment. What may seem innocent to you may in fact constitute sexual harassment to the other person.

What is Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment happens if a person; subjects another person to an unsolicited act of physical intimacy; or makes an unsolicited demand or request (whether directly or by implication) for sexual favours from the other person; or makes a remark with sexual connotations relating to the other person; or engages in any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature to the other person AND the person engaging in the conduct described above does so with the intention of offending, humiliating or intimidating the other person; or in circumstances where a reasonable person would have anticipated the possibility that the other person would be offended, humiliated or intimidated by the conduct.

Examples of sexual harassment are offensive "jokes" or comments about sex, sexual preference, physical appearance, displays of pictures, computer graphics or posters that are offensive or derogatory of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment includes communications modes such as email and at the extreme includes stalking.

There are solutions and you are not alone

? Employment Contract

? Induction Process

? Policy Statement on Sexual Harassment

? Employee Training

? Grievance policy

? Acting confidentially, timely and impartially.

? Mediation

Employers may be vicariously liable for the actions of their employees if they are unable to demonstrate that they took reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment including informing and training employees of unacceptable behaviours.

Sexual harassment does not have a place in today's workplace. Do not 'sweep it under the carpet' or 'just put up with it' as silence may give the impression of tacit acceptance.

There are serious legal penalties for those proven to have engaged in this conduct. Visit for more information.

Philip Lye is Director of Biz Momentum Pty Ltd and provides professional management services in

? Strategic Human Resource Management ? Employee Relations Advice ? Workplace Health & Safety Compliance Strategies ? Management Skills Training

Philip holds qualifications in Accounting, Leadership, Human Resource Management, Industrial Relations and is a qualified accountant.

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