Sexual Harassment has its place in workers compensation it’s just not called sexual harassment.
There is no place for sexual harassment in our workplaces but it is present and it has a significant impact on the worker who is subject to it.
The Australian Human Rights Commission has this to say about sexual harassment:
“Sexual harassment is any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. If a reasonable person would anticipate this behaviour might make you feel offended, humiliated or intimidated, it may be sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is unlawful under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth).”
The reality of sexual harassment at work can be deeper than this though. It is a form of abuse and as true as it may be that 45% of all harassment may stop if its reported at work, that still leaves 55% of all complaints made left to continue for some time afterwards.
This story comes from a few calls we have received from people asking if they can claim workers compensation if they have been sexually harassed at work. It’s a horrible thing to have to answer that it depends on the impact the harassment has had on the individual- but thankfully there are other avenues for these complaints than just workers compensation.
To receive workers compensation there needs to be an “injury” that has a direct relationship to the workplace. Sexual harassment when stopped early enough can prevent any injury but, as any person who has been the victim of sexual harassment can tell you it has a lasting impact.
Someone who has experienced sexual harassment to such an extent that they need workers compensation would typical claim for a psychological injury and though one would hope they would be treated with respect and dignity, they are treated the same as everyone else making a psychological injury claim.
As mentioned previously there are other avenues someone can take though. making a complaint to the NSW Anti discrimination board or the Australian Human Rights commission being two of these. they may be able to directly sue their employer for the sexual harassment as well. It’s always wise to get specialist advice before proceeding and they can do this through contacting these boards themselves, a lawyer, their union or contacting 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732 FREE) to talk to counsellor.
Most importantly, if you are the victim of sexual harassment at work you need to speak out as soon as possible. 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) is a free service with trained counsellors who can assist you and help you.
And for everyone else, don’t be just a bystander stand up and stand firm against a perpetrator. to learn more about this visit 1800respect.org.au to learn from professionals.