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Sexual harassment refers to any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favours or other conduct of a sexual nature which a reasonable person would anticipate makes a person feel offended, humiliated and/or intimidated in the circumstances.
Sexual harassment includes:
- Unwelcome touching;
- Staring or leering;
- Suggestive comments or jokes;
- Sexually explicit pictures or posters;
- Unwanted invitations to go out on dates;
- Requests for sex;
- Intrusive questions about a person's private life or body;
- Unnecessary familiarity, such as deliberately brushing up against a person;
- Insults or taunts based on sex;
- Sexually explicit physical contact; and
- Sexually explicit emails or SMS text messages.
Employers have a legal responsibility to take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment in their workplace, and can be vicariously liable for the sexual harassment of persons by their employees.
Employers therefore need to implement policies and procedures designed to create a harassment-free environment and procedures to deal with allegations of discrimination made by employees or customers. Employees must be made aware of these policies and provided with ongoing training to reinforce the need for a harassment free workplace.