Sexual harassment

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is against the law.

It is any unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature that makes you feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. Sexual harassment can be physical, verbal or written.

Examples of sexual harassment include:

  • sexually suggestive comments or jokes made in person, on the phone, in emails, or on social media that make you feel offended
  • unwelcome or inappropriate touching, hugging, cornering or kissing
  • inappropriate staring or leering that makes you feel intimidated
  • intrusive questions about your private life or physical appearance that make you feel offended
  • sexual gestures, indecent exposure or inappropriate display of the body
  • requests or pressure for sex or other sexual acts
  • repeated or inappropriate invitations to go out on dates
  • sexually explicit pictures, posters or gifts that make you feel offended
  • any other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that happened online or on some form of technology. 

In what areas is sexual harassment against the law?

Sexual harassment is against the law in certain public places, including: 

  • workplaces, such as when you apply for a job, while you are at work or when you volunteer
  • when you serve customers
  • when you access goods and services, such as when you go shopping, do your banking or access medical services
  • state education, such as when you apply for study and during your studies
  • accommodation, such as when you rent accommodation 
  • when you buy or sell real estate
  • at registered clubs (clubs that sell alcohol or have gambling machines), such as when you try to enter or join a club
  • in organised sports competitions, such as when coaching a team, participating in an event or administrating events
  • when carrying out state laws or programs on behalf of the state government. 

What are my rights at work?

You are entitled to a safe working environment and your employer has a duty to provide this to you. This includes ensuring your working environment is free of sexual harassment.

What can I do if I am sexually harassed?

If you feel you have been sexually harassed, you can try speaking to the person or organisation directly to express how you feel. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, or if it isn’t appropriate, you can contact us to make a complaint.

If you are unsure if you have experienced sexual harassment or need more information, you can contact our enquiry service. 

If you have experienced a serious incident of sexual harassment or assault, we recommend that you report this to the NSW Police.

Complaint case studies

Melinda was sexually harassed by her boss on an overnight business trip.
Hussain had a massage but felt uncomfortable when he was touched inappropriately.
Last updated:

04 Mar 2024

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