Workplace sexual harassment on the rise

WORKPLACE sexual harassment is still a problem, with a recent Human Rights Commission survey finding rates of reporting have risen from 16% in 2008 to 20% in 2012.

The survey also found one in five workers have encountered sexual harassment in the past five years.

Managing partner of Kawana employment law firm Aitken Legal, Lisa Aitken, said she has also seen an increase in sexual harassment complaints over the past few years.

"Some workplaces may have a rather relaxed, fun-loving and possibly even what they may consider to be a playful, flirtatious culture and this is a very dangerous line for an employer to walk," she said.

"If someone takes it a little too far and offends the other person; or the fun-loving relationship turns sour for some reason, the employer could find themselves faced with a sexual harassment complaint. The relationship should be professional at all times."

In most cases, businesses may not even be aware of what is actually classified as sexual harassment in the workplace.

Sexual Harassment can be classified as:
Unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature which offends, humiliates or intimidates
It is reasonably anticipated that the target would feel offended, humiliated or intimidated
Unwelcome hugging, kissing, cornering, sexually explicit texts, emails and social media comments
Unwelcome sexual physical contact such as touching, kissing, fondling
Intrusive questions about the persons sex life or personal life.

Aitken Legal is holding a free employment law briefing on sexual harassment, discrimination and workplace bullying on November 26.

Visit or phone 5413 4000 for more information.