Under Federal and State legislation, unlawful harassment occurs when someone is made to feel intimidated, insulted or humiliated because of their race, colour, national or ethnic origin; sex; disability; sexual preference; or some other characteristic specified under anti-discrimination or human rights legislation. It can also happen if someone is working in a ‘hostile’ – or intimidating – environment.

Harassment can include behaviour such as:

  • telling insulting jokes about particular racial groups;
  • sending explicit or sexually suggestive emails;
  • displaying offensive or pornographic posters or screen savers;
  • making derogatory comments or taunts about someone’s race or religion; and
  • asking intrusive questions about someone’s personal life, including their sex life.

(Information for Employers, Good practice, good business: Eliminating Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace, accessed from the Australian Human Rights Commission, 2014)

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