Sexual harassment – when it’s personal

Sexually charged comments or conduct aimed at an individual is sexual harassment.

There. That was straightforward.

But what if


Let’s go back to basics. There are two broad kinds of sexual harassment: unwelcome sexual advances, and unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. This Small Plate only deals with the first. The principle question is whether a reasonable person considers the victim would be offended, humiliated or intimidated. Employers are vicariously liable for the acts of their employees. The liability can extend beyond the workplace (more on that some other time).

Let’s look at the usual two excuses from harassers.

But she invited or accepted the conduct

No. It’s particularly ‘no’ if she used to initiate or encourage the behaviour and later asked that it stop. That case involved sexual comments, body written on with a texta, bra strap pulled and her bum pinched.

But she joined in

No. A complainant was found to have used her participation in sexual banter with a colleague as a coping mechanism for the harassment. It’s not the most ideal way of dealing with the conduct. The claim for sexual harassment succeeded. It was serious misconduct: intrusive questions about her sex life, sexually explicit comments about her and sexually explicit actions directed at her.

But …

Alright, fine. A victim might not mind, or might never complain. As a hospitality business owner, that’s more luck than judgement. You’re gambling on whether in truth the comments and conduct were welcomed or not. Owners and employers have a positive duty to prevent sexual harassment.

Allowing sexually charged comments in the workplace puts your business at risk. The next employee might object and might complain. Stamp it out now.

By | 2017-06-01T13:06:16+10:00 1 February 2016|Categories: Guides, Podcast, Profitable Hospitality 171|Tags: , , , , , |

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