Workplace sexual harassment WA is a serious issue that affects many employees and can have significant negative impacts on their mental health, job satisfaction, and overall well-being. The term refers to any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, which occurs in the context of employment. This type of behavior can create a hostile work environment, undermine the victim’s sense of safety and autonomy, and lead to feelings of shame and isolation.
In response to the prevalence of workplace sexual harassment WA, the state government has implemented a number of initiatives aimed at preventing and addressing this issue. These include education and awareness campaigns for employers and employees, as well as legal protections for victims of harassment. The government also provides support services for those affected by workplace sexual harassment, including counseling and advocacy services.
It is important that employers take proactive steps to prevent workplace sexual harassment in the workplace. This includes implementing clear policies and procedures related to sexual harassment, providing training to employees on what constitutes sexual harassment and how to report it, and taking swift and appropriate action when incidents are reported. By taking these steps, employers can create a safe and respectful workplace environment where all employees feel valued and supported.
Keeping the workplace safe from sexual harassment
In Perth and throughout Western Australia, employers and employees both have legal rights and responsibilities when it comes to sexual harassment.
Under the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 and the Work Health and Safety Act 2022, sexual harassment can provide the basis for workers’ compensation and damages claims.
The Meaning of Sexual Harassment
The definition of sexual harassment is when someone makes unwanted sexual advances, asks for or demands sexual favors, or conducts themselves sexually.
In spite of the fact that the criteria for determining what constitutes sexual harassment vary slightly from state to state, the following points are included in the definition of sexual harassment provided by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC):
- There’s a sexual element to it.
- The communication is unwelcome or unsolicited.
- It was intended to offend, humiliate, or intimidate the victim, or it would have been reasonable to expect that the harassed person would be offended, humiliated, or intimidated by such behaviour.
Briefly, sexual harassment constitutes a form of sex discrimination, which is prohibited.
Laws against sexual harassment in Western Australia
Sexual harassment laws in Australia are governed by state and federal legislation.
It is defined in the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) that sexual harassment is: “… unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that leads to offence, humiliation or intimidation”. In other words, any kind of sexual behaviour such as touching, making advances, making sexually explicit comments, making comments or jokes that are suggestive, and displaying porn.
Western Australia has the following laws addressing sexual harassment in the Commonwealth and the state:
- Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth)
- Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (WA)
- WHS Act 2022 and WHS Regulation 2022
Exactly what is sexual harassment in the Australia legal system?
Among the most crucial things to note regarding workplace sexual harassment in Australia is that it can occur as a result of a one-off incident and does not have to be repeated or deliberate to be considered unlawful.
Despite having no intent to offend, humiliate or intimidate the victim, the behaviour or act can still be considered sexual harassment, whether verbal, physical or visual. Last but not least, there are criminal laws that apply to certain types of sexual harassment. Indecent exposure or sexual assault are specific examples of sexual harassment.
In addition to sexual harassment, sexual coercion is a form of sexual abuse, and it is probably the rarest of all. In response to sex or sexual favour demands, it can manifest as quid pro quo or implied threat to job security.
What a workplace can look like when it comes to sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment may include any of the following acts, according to the Australian Human Rights Commission:
- A physical contact that is unwelcome, unnecessarily familiar and/or not requested
- The act of staring or leering
- Comments, taunts, insults, and jokes that suggest
- Unwanted requests to go out on dates outside of work
- Anyone who asks for sex
- Using email, text messages, or other methods to send pornographic material or rude jokes
- Using text messages or email to send sexually explicit messages
- Contact with physical intimacy that is sexually explicit
- Invading someone’s privacy or asking intrusive questions
- Posters, magazines, and screensavers containing content of a sexual nature
What an employer must do when it comes to sexual harassment in WA
Every employee in the state of WA has a right to work in an environment that is free from discrimination, sexual harassment, and vilification. Each employer has a duty of care to ensure that the health and wellbeing of their employees is taken care of at work. As a result, they are required to take reasonable steps to prevent the occurrence of sexual harassment or any other type of harassment.
Using WHS Laws and Equal Opportunity Act in WA as a guide, employers in Western Australia should take the following steps:
- Discrimination and harassment policies should be in place and enforced.
- Make sure people are trained on appropriate workplace behaviour on a regular basis.
- Give employees a clear complaint process so they know what to do if they’re harassed.
- Assure the employee that reporting discrimination or sexual harassment will not adversely affect their reputation, career prospects, or workplace relationships.
Employee Responsibilities Regarding Sexual Harassment in Western Australia
In the same way that an employer is required to ensure their employees are free from discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace, employees have the responsibility of not engaging in inappropriate workplace behaviour, such as being discriminatory or harassing others.
As a first step, they should follow the policies of their employer regarding this type of conduct. Additionally, they should not encourage or request any type of inappropriate behaviour from another individual. In the event that they do this and are found out, they may also be held responsible for the actions of the harasser.
Employees’ rights to compensation if they’re sexually harassed or assaulted
It is possible for employers to be held vicariously liable for sexual harassment that employees experience if they fail to provide a work environment free of harassment. The employer could be held accountable for the harassment perpetrated by the employee and for not adequately protecting the employee from the behavior or ill-treatment after the complaint has been made.
In recent years, the courts have heard several cases of sexual harassment and awarded substantial compensation to the victims. Due to this, the Federal Court of Australia and the Work Health and Safety regulators within each jurisdiction have emphasised that employers are responsible for taking reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment from continuing.
In such cases, owners of businesses must be held accountable for failing to fulfill their legal duties if they commit sexual harassment against their employees.
In what ways can WHS and Training Compliance Solutions be of assistance to your organisation?
In order to effectively prevent workplace sexual harassment WA, companies must provide workers with sexual harassment prevention training.
In order to prevent accidents and injuries in the workplace, every employee should get workplace sexual harassment prevention training. No matter how long an employee has been working, he or she should get trained.
As part of WA’s workplace safety obligations, employers must provide training to prevent workplace sexual harassment to their:
- In the case of new and existing employees
- Especially for managers, supervisors, team leaders, and executives
- Those who work as contractors and subcontractors
Developed by years of research, our workplace sexual harassment prevention training will help you keep your workplace safe. We specialise in training highly skilled professionals within a broad range of companies across Australia through WHS and Training Compliance Solutions. It might interest you to know that we offer training on Sexual Harassment Prevention at the workplace through an elearning course as well.
Find the right workplace Sexual Harassment Prevention training programs for your business in WA by contacting our experienced training and development consultants today.