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Sexual Harassment and Bullying
Sexual Harassment and Bullying

Precis

Every year, sexual harassment in the workplace is one of the most common types of complaints received by the Commission under the Sex Discrimination Act. In 2009 – 2010, 21% of all complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission were under the Sex Discrimination Act, and 88% of those complaints related to sex discrimination in the workplace. The wide use of new technologies such as mobile phones, email and social networking websites creates new spaces where sexual harassment may occur.

Sexual harassment at work is against the law. Sexual harassment can be committed by an employer, workmate or other people in a working relationship with the victim.

Sexual harassment can be a barrier to women participating fully in paid work. It can undermine their equal participation in organisations or business, reduce the quality of their working life and impose costs on organisations.

It is important for employers to know how to increase awareness of and prevent sexual harassment. It is also important for employees and co-workers to know how to identify sexual harassment and what avenues are available to them to make a complaint.

Sexual harassment is any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. If a reasonable person would anticipate this behaviour might make you feel offended, humiliated or intimidated, it may be sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is unlawful under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth).

Some examples of behaviour that may be sexual harassment include:

  • Sexually suggestive comments or jokes
  • Intrusive questions about your private life or physical appearance
  • Inappropriate staring or leering
  • Unwelcome hugging, kissing or cornering or other types of inappropriate physical contact
  • Sexually explicit text messages, images, phone calls or emails

Sexual harassment needs to be distinguished from general harassment or bullying that is not sexual in nature. However, other forms of harassment based on a person’s race, sexuality or disability, for example, would typically be unlawful under other anti-discrimination laws.

20.1      Referenced documents:

WHS Regulation 2011
Sex Discrimination Act 1984

Sexual harassment is also prohibited by state and territory anti-discrimination laws. Unless an exception applies, employers must comply with both the national legislation and the relevant state or territory law. These are:

  • Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW);
  • Equal Opportunity Act 1995 (VIC);
  • Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (SA);
  • Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (WA);
  • Discrimination Act 1991 (ACT);
  • Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (QLD);
  • Anti-Discrimination Act 1992 (NT);
  • Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 (TAS).

Australian Human Rights Commission
Effectively preventing and responding to sexual harassment: A Code of Practice for Employers

20.2      Definitions

20.2.1    Definition of sexual harassment

  • Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual conduct which makes a person feel offended, humiliated and/or intimidated where that reaction is reasonable in the circumstances.
  • Sexual harassment can take various forms. It can involve:
    • unwelcome touching, hugging or kissing
    • staring or leering
    • suggestive comments or jokes
    • sexually explicit pictures, screen savers or posters
    • unwanted invitations to go out on dates or requests for sex
    • intrusive questions about an employee’s private life or body
    • unnecessary familiarity, such as deliberately brushing up against someone
    • insults or taunts of a sexual nature
    • sexually explicit emails or SMS messages
    • accessing sexually explicit internet sites
    • behaviour which would also be an offence under the criminal law, such as physical assault, indecent exposure, sexual assault, stalking or obscene communications.
  • Sexual harassment is not sexual interaction, flirtation, attraction or friendship which is invited, mutual, consensual or reciprocated.
  • Sexual harassment is a legally recognised form of sex discrimination. Sexual harassment and sex discrimination are both unlawful under the Sex Discrimination Act.

20.2.2    The legal test for sexual harassment

  • The legal test for sexual harassment in the federal Sex Discrimination Act has three essential elements:
    • the behaviour must be unwelcome;
    • it must be of a sexual nature;
    • it must be such that a reasonable person would anticipate in the circumstances that the person who was harassed would be offended, humiliated and/or intimidated.
  • Whether the behaviour is unwelcome is a subjective test. How the conduct in question was perceived and experienced by the recipient is important rather than the intention behind it.
  • Whether the behaviour was offensive, humiliating or intimidating is an objective test. That is, whether a reasonable person would have anticipated that the behaviour would have this effect.
  • The unwelcome behaviour need not be repeated or continuous. A single incident can amount to sexual harassment.
  • A complaint of sexual harassment will not necessarily be dismissed because the person subjected to the behaviour did not directly inform the harasser that it was unwelcome.

20.3      Sex Discrimination Act 1984

Division 3—Sexual harassment

20.3.1    28A  Meaning of sexual harassment

(1)  For the purposes of this Division, a person sexually harasses another person (the person harassed) if:

  • the person makes an unwelcome sexual advance, or an unwelcome request for sexual favours, to the person harassed; or
  • engages in other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in relation to the person harassed;
  • in circumstances in which a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would have anticipated the possibility that the person harassed would be offended, humiliated or intimidated.

(1A)  For the purposes of subsection (1), the circumstances to be taken into account include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • the sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status, marital or relationship status, religious belief, race, colour, or national or ethnic origin, of the person harassed;
  • the relationship between the person harassed and the person who made the advance or request or who engaged in the conduct;
  • any disability of the person harassed;
  • any other relevant circumstance.

(2)  In this section:

conduct of a sexual nature includes making a statement of a sexual nature to a person, or in the presence of a person, whether the statement is made orally or in writing.

20.3.2    28B  Employment, partnerships etc.

(1)  It is unlawful for a person to sexually harass:

  • an employee of the person; or
  • a person who is seeking to become an employee of the person.

(2)  It is unlawful for an employee to sexually harass a fellow employee or a person who is seeking employment with the same employer.

(3)  It is unlawful for a person to sexually harass:

  • a commission agent or contract worker of the person; or
  • a person who is seeking to become a commission agent or contract worker of the person.

(4)  It is unlawful for a commission agent or contract worker to sexually harass a fellow commission agent or fellow contract worker.

(5)  It is unlawful for a partner in a partnership to sexually harass another partner, or a person who is seeking to become a partner, in the same partnership.

(6)  It is unlawful for a workplace participant to sexually harass another workplace participant at a place that is a workplace of either or both of those persons.

(7)  In this section:

place includes a ship, aircraft or vehicle.

workplace means a place at which a workplace participant works or otherwise carries out functions in connection with being a workplace participant.

workplace participant means any of the following:

  • an employer or employee;
  • a commission agent or contract worker;
  • a partner in a partnership.

20.4      Criminal conduct

Although the Sex Discrimination Act makes sexual harassment a civil not criminal offence, some types of harassment may also be offences under the criminal law.15
These include:

  • physical molestation or assault
  • indecent exposure
  • sexual assault
  • stalking
  • obscene communications such as telephone calls and letters.

In a criminal case the victim appears as a witness for the Crown and the offender can be prosecuted. If the prosecution is successful, the outcome may be a fine or a jail sentence. In civil proceedings, cases are brought by victims themselves. If they win the case they may be awarded damages. The two types of proceedings are not mutually exclusive. However, criminal allegations can be more difficult to establish because they must be proved ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. Civil offences on the other hand need only be proved ‘on the balance of probabilities’.

If an employer suspects that a criminal incident has occurred, the individual should be advised to report the matter to the police as soon as possible and be provided with any necessary support and assistance.

If the Commission receives a sexual harassment complaint which involves allegations of criminal conduct, the complainant is informed of their right to report the matter to the police and an appropriate referral is provided. The Commission may nevertheless deal with a case that involves criminal allegations, particularly if the matter has not been pursued by law enforcement agencies or if the complainant is unwilling to report the matter to the police.

20.5      Where does workplace sexual harassment take place?

Under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, a ‘workplace’ is:

  • Where the harasser works
  • Where the person being harassed works
  • Where they both work

The Sex Discrimination Act also covers ‘work related’ sexual harassment, which can take place:

  • At the location of someone working remotely who is harassed by email, on a social networking site, or by mobile phone.
  • On work-related trips (such as training and, conferences or in hotels, cars or on trains etc).
  • At work-related social events (such as work lunches, office parties, at bars and restaurants).
  • In classroom or training facilities or in the workplaces of interns, trainees and apprentices.
  • In educational institutions and inter-school activities (sexual harassment can be perpetrated by students over the age of 16 or by staff)
  • In shops, restaurants, or anywhere that goods and services are provided (sexual harassment can be perpetrated by customers towards staff or by staff towards customers).

What about mutual attraction and consensual relationships?
Sexual interaction or flirtation which is based on mutual attraction or friendship is not sexual harassment because it is not unwelcome.
Different individuals will often perceive and react to behaviour in different ways. This can make sexual harassment a complex area for employers to manage. For example, a person may think that their conduct is welcome or inoffensive, when in fact the recipient finds it distasteful but goes along with it to avoid a confrontation. This can happen where there is a difference in age, racial or cultural background, seniority or personal power between those concerned. Sometimes workplace participants feel they have to join in to avoid being victimised, teased or excluded by their workmates. Relationships can sour or change, messages can be misread and the line between what is welcome and unwelcome can be crossed.

 

20.5.1    Which workplace relationships are covered?

The relationship between the alleged harasser and the person allegedly harassed is the key to understanding when the Sex Discrimination Act applies in the area of employment.

Under the Act, it is unlawful to sexually harass:

  • an employee, a commission agent or a contract worker
  • a prospective employee, commission agent or contract worker
  • a colleague, partner, fellow commission agent or fellow contract worker
  • a prospective colleague, partner, fellow commission agent or fellow contract worker
  • another workplace participant (includes employers (eg sole trader), employees, commission agents, contract workers and partners in a partnership).

20.6      What can I do about sexual harassment in my workplace?

20.6.1    What can I do if I’m experiencing sexual harassment at work?

  • Raise the issue directly with the harasser and tell them that their behaviour is unwelcome
  • Talk to a colleague for support
  • Talk to a union delegate or contact a union office for advice
  • Contact a community legal centre or working women’s centre for legal advice
  • Contact 1800 RESPECT for telephone and online counselling, information and referral
  • Make a complaint to your manager/employer
  • Contact the Australian Human Rights Commission or state and federal anti-discrimination agencies for information or to make a complaint.

20.6.2    Same-sex harassment and sexual preference

Sexual harassment is prohibited regardless of the sex of the parties, so a person can make a complaint if they are harassed by someone of the same sex. Sexual preference is also irrelevant to a complaint of sexual harassment. If lesbians or gay men are subjected to unwelcome conduct which is sexual in nature they can make a sexual harassment complaint. For example, if a group of workers makes offensive sexual jokes or comments about a colleague who is perceived to be homosexual, it is likely to be unlawful sexual harassment. It is also not relevant that the harasser had no sexual interest in the complainant.

20.6.3    When is sexual harassment prohibited?

Sexual harassment is prohibited in most workplace situations and relationships. The key to understanding who is covered by federal sexual harassment legislation is the relationship between the harasser and the person being harassed.

Note that sexual harassment does not necessarily have to take place in the workplace to be unlawful. Sexual harassment in employment may also take place in locations associated with work, such as conferences and training centres, restaurants for catering, hotels on tour or company functions such as opening night or wrap parties. Sexual harassment may also be covered by the legislation if it occurs away from the workplace but is the culmination or extension of events occurring in the workplace.

Social functions and alcohol
Sexual harassment between employees is unlawful at social functions that are connected to work. The fact that the work party takes place at a venue outside of the workplace or even outside of working hours will not affect employees’ liability for their actions. Employers will also remain vicariously liable for the behaviour of their staff at work social functions, unless they took all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment occurring.
When drinking, people will often act in ways they otherwise would not. Sometimes people view drinking and socialising as an opportunity to behave towards co-workers in a sexual or offensive way.
In order to protect themselves from vicarious liability for sexual harassment, employers may want to remind their employees that:
sexual harassment in employment will not be tolerated wherever and whenever it takes place employees are responsible for their inappropriate behaviour at a work social function being drunk is not a defence to sexual harassment.
Employers should also remind managers to model appropriate behaviour and be mindful that alcohol is served in a responsible way.

20.7      Code of Practice – Sexual Harassment

Effectively preventing and responding to sexual harassment: A Code of Practice for Employers

This Code of Practice is issued under section 48(ga) of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) which empowers the Commission to prepare and publish guidelines for the avoidance of discrimination on the ground of sex, marital status, pregnancy or potential pregnancy, and discrimination involving sexual harassment.

This Code of Practice provides guidelines only for the avoidance of sexual harassment in the workplace and employers should seek their own legal advice as needed. The document is not legally binding. However, it incorporates mandatory requirements of the Sex Discrimination Act, established case law principles and accepted practice in the area.

20.7.1    When is sexual harassment unlawful?

Sexual harassment is unlawful in almost every employment situation and relationship. For example, sexual harassment is prohibited at the workplace, during working hours, at work-related activities such as training courses, conferences, field trips, work functions and office Christmas parties. It is also unlawful between almost all workplace participants.

20.7.2    What are the legal obligations as an employer?

There are good business reasons for preventing sexual harassment in the workplace.

As an employer, you may be held legally responsible for acts of sexual harassment committed by your employees. This is called ‘vicarious liability’. The Sex Discrimination Act makes employers liable for acts of sexual harassment unless they have taken all reasonable steps to prevent it from taking place.

While there is no uniform standard expected of employers in taking all reasonable steps, at a minimum employers would usually be expected to:

  • have an appropriate sexual harassment policy which is effectively implemented, monitored and communicated to all workplace participants.
  • take appropriate remedial action if sexual harassment does occur.

Policies and procedures preventing harassment assist employers in maintaining positive workplace relationships and can improve employee motivation and performance.

In managing sexual harassment in the workplace, you may also have obligations under other laws, such as privacy, defamation, occupational health and safety and industrial laws.

20.7.3    How should the employer deal with complaints?

If sexual harassment does occur, take appropriate remedial action. An employer should have appropriate procedures for dealing with grievances and complaints once they are made.

20.7.4    Other employer duties

In managing sexual harassment in the workplace, an employer may also have obligations under other laws, such as privacy, defamation, occupational health and safety and industrial laws.

20.7.5    Are there any specific guidelines for small business?

There is no exemption in the Sex Discrimination Act for small business. Employers in all small businesses, whatever the size, may be vicariously liable for acts of sexual harassment committed by employees in connection with their employment unless all reasonable steps were taken to prevent it occurring.

Small businesses are expected to write and implement a sexual harassment policy, and they need to deal with complaints in an appropriate way. However, courts will take into account the size and resources of a business in deciding what is reasonable to expect them to do to prevent sexual harassment.

20.8      Liability

20.8.1    Key points

20.8.1.1    Personal liability

Persons or organisations covered by the sexual harassment provisions of the Sex Discrimination Act are personally liable for:

  • their own acts of sexual harassment
  • any act of victimisation
  • causing, instructing, inducing, aiding or permitting sexual harassment (this is called ‘accessory liability’).

20.8.1.2    Vicarious liability

It is a general legal principle that an individual is personally liable for his or her own unlawful acts. However, in the area of employment (including discrimination and harassment) employers can also be held liable for wrongs committed by their employees in connection with their employment. This is referred to as the principle of ‘vicarious liability’.

Section 106 of the Sex Discrimination Act makes employers vicariously liable for the unlawful conduct of their employees in connection with their employment. This means that if an employee sexually harasses a co-worker, client, customer or other protected person the employer can be held legally responsible and may be liable for damages unless they took all reasonable steps to prevent the harassment occurring.

In practice, in most sexual harassment complaints conciliated through the Commission or cases determined by courts, compensation is paid by the employer, rather than the alleged harasser.28 Although the individual harasser will still be liable for their behaviour, and can be ordered by a court to pay compensation, employers are more likely than individuals to have the means to pay compensation.

Section 106 also makes a person vicariously liable for the unlawful conduct of his or her ‘agent’ in connection with the duties of the agent.

20.8.1.3    Agents

Depending on the particular details, agents in the area of employment could include:

  • volunteer workers
  • holders of unpaid honorary positions
  • members of the board of directors
  • contractors and consultants
  • business partners.

Depending on the particular details, agents of a union can include shop stewards and workplace delegates.

20.8.1.4    Accessory liability

Individuals and employers can also be held liable under section 105 of the Sex Discrimination Act if they ‘caused, instructed, induced, aided or permitted’ an individual to commit an unlawful act. For example, a manager who is aware that an employee is being sexually harassed and does nothing about it may be held liable as an accessory to the harassment. There is no defence available for this type of liability.

Strictly speaking, section 105 only applies to liability for unlawful sex discrimination, not sexual harassment. However, the courts have accepted that sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. Accordingly, section 105 can still operate to render a person liable as an accessory to sexual harassment.

Section 105 differs from the vicarious liability provisions discussed above in several ways. Unlike vicarious liability, an organisation can be an accessory to sexual harassment even if there is no legal relationship between the organisation and the harasser such as that of employer/employee. However in contrast to vicarious liability, an organisation must have contributed to the sexual harassment in order to be liable as an accessory, either knowingly, recklessly or through wilful blindness.

In effect, a person will be an accessory to harassment if they were aware or should have been aware that sexual harassment was occurring, or that there was a real possibility of it occurring, did nothing to address it and thereby allowed the harassment to take place.

20.8.1.5    Victimisation

Section 94 of the Sex Discrimination Act prohibits the victimisation of anyone connected with a complaint. Victimisation means subjecting a person to some detriment if he or she has:

  • lodged, or is considering lodging a complaint under the Sex Discrimination Act
  • provided information or documents to the Commission
  • attended a conciliation conference or appeared as a witness
  • reasonably asserted any rights under the Sex Discrimination Act of themselves or someone else
  • made an allegation that a person has done an act that is unlawful under the Sex Discrimination Act.

Examples of victimisation may include:

  • an employee being moved to a position with lesser responsibilities while her complaint is being considered
  • a staff member being ostracised by other employees because of providing information to the Commission about inappropriate material being circulated in the workplace
  • an employee being denied the opportunity of a promotion after unsuccessfully lodging a sexual harassment complaint against several of her supervisors.

If a person is subjected to some detriment because of being involved in a sexual harassment complaint, they can make a complaint of victimisation to the Commission, using the usual complaints procedures.  In some cases, such as physical molestation or assault, victimisation may also be a criminal matter and the victim can report the behaviour to police.

20.9      How can employers prevent sexual harassment?

The key to preventing sexual harassment is for employers and management to make it clear to every employee and workplace participant that sexual harassment is unacceptable in the workplace. This can be done by developing a clear sexual harassment policy, communicating it to each workplace participant and making sure that it is understood. In addition, it is important that appropriate behaviour be modelled by management throughout the workplace.

A written policy on its own is insufficient. A policy that is not implemented through communication, education and enforcement will be of little or no use in discharging liability. Below is a checklist on the general steps necessary to prevent sexual harassment, followed by guidelines specifically on writing a sexual harassment policy.

20.9.1    Five simple steps to prevent sexual harassment

It is recommended that employers take the following steps to prevent sexual harassment.

20.9.1.1    Get high-level management support

Obtain high level support from the chief executive officer and senior management for implementing a comprehensive strategy to address sexual harassment.

20.9.1.2    Write and implement a sexual harassment policy

Develop a written policy which prohibits sexual harassment in consultation with staff and relevant unions.

Regularly distribute and promote the policy at all levels of the organisation. Ensure the policy is easily accessible on the organisation’s intranet.

Provide the policy and other relevant information on sexual harassment to new staff as a standard part of induction.

Translate the policy into relevant community languages where required so it is accessible to employees from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Ensure that the policy is accessible to staff members with a disability.

Ensure that managers and supervisors discuss and reinforce the policy at staff meetings. Verbal communication of the policy is particularly important in workplaces where the literacy of staff may be an issue.

Periodically review the policy to ensure it is operating effectively and contains up-to-date information.

20.9.1.3    Provide regular training and information on sexual harassment to all staff and management

Conduct regular training sessions for all staff and management on sexual harassment and the organisational policy. This training should be behaviourally based which means it should increase knowledge and understanding of specific behaviours that may amount to sexual harassment under the Sex Discrimination Act. Regular refresher training is recommended.

Train all line managers on their role in ensuring that the workplace is free from sexual harassment.

Display anti-sexual harassment posters on notice boards in common work areas and distribute relevant brochures.

20.9.1.4    Encourage appropriate conduct by managers

Managers should understand the need to model appropriate standards of professional conduct at all times.

Include accountability mechanisms in position descriptions for managers.

Ensure that selection criteria for management positions include the requirement that managers have a demonstrated understanding of and ability to deal with discrimination and harassment issues as part of their overall responsibility for human resources.

Check that managers are fulfilling their responsibilities through performance appraisal schemes.

20.9.1.5    Create a positive workplace environment

Remove offensive, sexually explicit or pornographic calendars, literature, posters and other materials from the workplace.

Develop a policy prohibiting inappropriate use of computer technology, such as e-mail, screen savers and the internet.

It is recommended that medium and large employers undertake regular audits to monitor the incidence of sexual harassment in their workplaces and the use and effectiveness of their complaints procedures.

20.10   Complaint procedures

20.10.1  Internal complaints

Employers should establish internal procedures for dealing with sexual harassment complaints or grievances to encourage in-house resolution. The Sex Discrimination Act does not prescribe any particular type of complaint procedure so employers have the flexibility to design a system that suits the organisation’s size, structure and resources.

Employers can establish a specific procedure for sexual harassment complaints or, alternatively, use the procedure that is already in place for other types of work-related grievances. However, sexual harassment complaints may be complex, sensitive and potentially volatile. Anyone who has responsibility for dealing with them will require specialist expertise and should receive appropriate training.

Employers should ensure that their organisation’s complaint procedures:

  • are clearly documented
  • are explained to all employees
  • offer both informal and formal options
  • address complaints in a manner which is fair, timely and confidential
  • are based on the principles of procedural fairness
  • are administered by trained personnel
  • provide clear guidance on internal investigation procedures and record keeping
  • advise a complainant that they can pursue the matter externally with the Commission, a state or territory anti-discrimination body and, if it appears to be a criminal matter, the police
  • give a clear undertaking that no employee will be victimised or disadvantaged for making a complaint
  • are regularly audited and reviewed for effectiveness.

20.10.2  External complaints

A person who has been subjected to sexual harassment can make a written complaint to the Commission (or the relevant state or territory anti-discrimination agency). The complaint will be investigated and the Commission will generally endeavour to settle it by conciliation. If conciliation is unsuccessful or inappropriate in the circumstances the complaint may be terminated and the complainant can then apply to the Federal Magistrates Court or Federal Court of Australia for judicial determination. See Appendix 1 for more information about complaints to the Commission.

A person is not required to attempt to resolve a complaint within the workplace before approaching the Commission or the relevant state or territory anti-discrimination agency. Criminal acts such as assault may also be reported directly to the police.

Making a complaint
If you feel you have been sexually harassed, you can make a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission. Complaints must be made in writing or by email. This can be done by downloading a complaints form or completing the online complaint form.
There is no cost involved in making a complaint. Complaints can be made in any language, in Braille, or verbally on a video or audio tape. The Commission can also help you write out your complaint if you require assistance.
The Complaints section of the Commission’s website has more information about the complaints process. Alternatively, for further information, or to discuss a complaint with a Complaints Information Officer, call 1300 656 419 or email complaintsinfo@humanrights.gov.au.

20.11   Record-keeping

Sexual harassment complaints may be very sensitive and involve personal information about employees. Employers should develop guidelines on dealing with such information, in order to comply with privacy laws and maintain staff confidence.

Information relating to sexual harassment complaints should be protected by reasonable security safeguards. For example, any files or reports associated with an investigation should be kept in locked storage.

20.12   What about very small businesses?

20.12.1  Policies

The case law suggests that even very small businesses should have a simple written sexual harassment policy.  In very small businesses where the owner or employer has direct contact with all employees and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of daily operations, steps to address sexual harassment and implement the sexual harassment policy may include:

  • orally informing all employees that sexual harassment will not be tolerated under any circumstances and that disciplinary action will be taken against an employee who sexually harasses a co-worker, client or customer, contractor or other workplace participant
  • providing all staff with brochures and displaying information on noticeboards regarding sexual harassment
  • informing new staff that it is a condition of their employment that they do not sexually harass a co-worker, client or customer, contractor or other workplace participant
  • keeping a diary note, which may later be useful as evidence, when staff are informed of the employer’s policy on sexual harassment and when information is displayed and updated.

20.12.2  Complaints

Employees in very small business should be advised to make a complaint to the owners or employer if they are subjected to sexual harassment. The general principles that apply to informal and formal complaint procedures outlined in Section 7 of the Code of Practice should be observed.

Employees should be advised that they also have the right to approach their union, the Commission or their state or territory anti-discrimination agency.

20.12.3  Assistance with sexual harassment issues for very small business

If the owner or employer requires assistance to deal with a complaint, they should contact employer organisations, small business associations, industry associations, the Commission or their state or territory anti-discrimination agency for advice.

Owners or employers in very small business are encouraged to attend relevant seminars or training sessions run by employer organisations, small business associations, industry associations, the Commission or their state or territory anti-discrimination agency.

Owners or employers in very small business are encouraged to obtain any available resources on discrimination, harassment and their legal responsibilities from employer organisations, small business associations, industry associations, the Commission or their state or territory anti-discrimination agency.