Your (brief) guide to sexual harassment

Your (brief) guide to sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is serious and unacceptable. Unfortunately, it’s rampant in workplaces that Unite Union covers – in some places it’s normalised and a part of the culture that gets treated like a joke. In others, workers who have been harassed are so uncomfortable or unsure what to do that they just try put up with it and hope it ends. If it doesn’t, they quit.

Definition

Under the Human Rights Act 1993, it is unlawful to request any form of sexual activity in exchange for better treatment, or with a threat of punishment if it’s rejected.

It’s also unlawful to write, speak, behave, or show visual material of a sexual nature when it offends or is unwelcome. The behaviour can either be repeated or a once-off event that hurts somebody.

Long story short – if it feels yuck it probably is. 

Common situations – is it harassment?

PEOPLE ARE DISCUSSING MY SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS AT WORK IN A SEXUAL WAY

Yes – and workplace bullying.

I AM BEING MOCKED ABOUT MY SEXUALITY

Yes – and discrimination.

SOMEONE KEEPS ASKING ME TO HANG OUT OUTSIDE OF WORK

If it is unwelcome, yes.

SOMEONE GAVE MY SNAPCHAT/PHONE NUMBER OUT AT WORK

Yes – and a privacy breach

PEOPLE DATE ALL THE TIME HERE

Not necessarily – people can have consensual healthy workplace relationships. It doesn’t mean that everyone is allowed to be sexual with each other though and use this as an excuse

I’M A MAN; CAN I BE HARASSED?

Absolutely!

SOMEONE KEEPS LOOKING ME UP AND DOWN BUT THEY DON’T DO ANYTHING ELSE

 

Yes – it is still behaviour that has a negative effect on your well being.

 

What to do about it

If you’re being harassed – do not put it in the too hard basket; you have options. Take detailed notes of each incident as soon as they happen and give these to your union organiser. You could lay a complaint within the company or a legal complaint to the Human Rights Commission. If you do not feel comfortable laying any complaint because you want to remain anonymous, still tell your union organiser what has happened because you never know how many other people this person has harassed.

If you’re a bystander – call it out! Tell harassers off, and support workers who have been harassed in doing something about it.

 

 

Hannah Shelton Agar is Unite’s Cinemas Organiser, based in Auckland. 
022 573 6707 
hannah@unite.org.nz