Harassment is distressing, worrying or annoying behaviour that’s usually carried out by someone in a powerful position, but not always. It’s against the law to harass someone on the grounds of an attribute, such as race, sex or age.
Examples of harassment:
- verbal attacks
- seriously embarrassing or teasing
- intimidating someone.
Sexual harassment is a type of discrimination. It involves unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours or unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that offends, humiliates or intimidates. It has nothing to do with mutual attraction or friendship.
Examples of sexual harassment:
- suggestive behaviour
- staring or leering
- sexual jokes
- sexual propositions or asking for sexual favours
- unwanted invitations for dates
- sexual or physical contact such as touching, slapping or kissing
- insults or taunts based on a person’s sex
- sexually offensive gestures
- sexually explicit materials or emails
- intrusive questions about someone’s private life or body
Just one of these actions may be enough to constitute sexual harassment.
Statistics show it's usually men who sexually harass women. But sometimes women sexually harass men, men sexually harass other men, and women sexually harass other women.
Mutual attraction or friendship is not sexual harassment. If there is consent, it isn’t sexual harassment - although the behaviour might still be inappropriate for the workplace.