Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is unwelcome or unwanted sexual behaviour that offends, humiliates, intimidates or undermines you. It can be physical, verbal, written or other conduct.

It can be a single incident, or repeated behaviour.

Sexual harassment can include:

  • pictures or photos
  • comments
  • emails or social media like Facebook
  • suggestive behaviour
  • physical acts, such as deliberately brushing up against someone.

When sexual harassment is against the law

Sexual harassment is unlawful when it occurs in certain areas of public life. 'Public life' includes:

  • at work
  • working as a volunteer
  • at school, university or TAFE
  • in shops
  • buying or selling goods or services
  • in clubs
  • activities you participate in, such as sports.

What you can do

Sometimes sexual harassment can involve a sexual assault, stalking or blackmail, or other criminal offences. If you think that this is the case you should contact the police.

If you are being harassed at work, it is your employer's responsibility to do everything reasonable to make your workplace free from sexual harassment. For more information about what you can do see Workplace bullying.

It is also unlawful for you to be victimised because you have made a complaint about sexual harassment.

If you can’t resolve a sexual harassment issue directly with the person involved, you can make a complaint to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission or the Australian Human Rights Commission.

However, discrimination law is complex and it can be confusing knowing which option is the best one for you. If you complain to one place, sometimes you cannot change your mind later and complain elsewhere. So it is best to speak to call us to get legal help before lodging a complaint.

Get help

Find out how you can get help with discrimination, harassment and bullying.