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Everyone has the right to a safe workplace

Everyone has the right to a safe workplace that is free from sexual harassment and unlawful discrimination.

At Fair Work Claims, we are acutely aware of the devastating impacts this sort of appalling and inappropriate conduct can have on someone.

However, please know there is something you can do about it.

At Fair Work Claims, we have a strong record of holding individuals and employers who are responsible for this sort of unlawful behaviour to account.

If you have experienced any form of sexual harassment or unlawful discrimination, you might be entitled to substantial compensation.

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is any unwelcome behaviour that is sexual in nature which is intended to make another person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated.

It does not need to be repeated or on-going for it to be unlawful.

Both men and women can be affected by sexual harassment.

Examples of sexual harassment

Examples of sexual harassment can include:

  • any unwelcome touching, including hugging and kissing 
  • sexually suggestive comments, insults or taunts
  • inappropriate staring or leering
  • sexually suggestive jokes or comments
  • intrusive questions about your private life
  • displaying posters of a sexual nature
  • sending sexually explicit emails or text messages or gifts
  • inappropriate advances on social media
  • repeated unwanted requests to go out on dates or requests for sex

Sexual harassment can happen anywhere

Sexual harassment can happen at work or at school, university or college.

It can also happen in the provision of goods and services, as well as in accommodation.

Workplace sexual harassment can happen in the regular work environment, such as an office, or a factory or a retail store or a work site.

But it can also happen anywhere in connection with work or anywhere arising from the course of employment.

That means work Christmas parties, interstate conferences and other work-related functions.

It can happen in bars, restaurants, cafes, hotels or conference centres and Ubers.

Sexual harassment can also happen on social media and in text messages.


In recent decisions, Australian courts have made it very clear they take sexual harassment extremely seriously.

They have imposed huge penalties on perpetrators and awarded substantial damages to victims reaching into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.  

What is discrimination?

Discrimination happens when you are treated less favourably because of a particular attribute – compared to someone who does not have that same attribute.

Various federal and state legislation protects Australians from discrimination.

Sate laws differ slightly depending on the jurisdiction, so it is important to seek professional advice if you believe you have experienced discrimination.

What is a protected attribute?

Attributes that are protected by the law can include a person’s:

  • sex
  • gender identity
  • sexuality or sexual orientation
  • colour
  • race
  • national extraction or social origin
  • religion
  • age (young or old)
  • physical or mental impairment or disability
  • martial or parental status
  • pregnancy
  • breastfeeding
  • political opinion
  • trade union activity

Where can discrimination happen?

Unlawful discrimination can happen to you at work, or at school or university, or when you are seeking accommodation like renting a house or motel room.

It can also happen when you access goods and services.

For example, buying things from a shop, going to a café or to the movies or a medical centre – it can even happen when you hire tradespeople.

Workplace discrimination can happen when you are employed, or when you are doing work experience, or even when you apply for a job.

It also applies to contractors and volunteers.

Reach out for help

Sexual harassment and discrimination can affect people in different ways.

You may experience depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, panic attacks and even post traumatic stress disorder.

If you need support, make sure talk to a friend, or your local doctor – or you can call one of these services.

Lifeline  13 11 14

1800RESPECT  1800 737 732

QLife  1800 184 527

Beyond Blue  1300 223 636

MensLine Australia  1300 789 978

Kids Helpline  1800 551 800

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LAST UPDATED: April 2022

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