A Bad Business
(Review of sexual harassment in employment complaints 2002)
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Media Pack Index | Media
Release | Launch Speech by Pru Goward | Speech by Nareen Young | Case
Fact Sheets: Key Findings | The
Complaints Process | Legal Definition
of Sexual Harassment | Cost to Employers
The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity
Commission (HREOC) reviewed 152 complaints of sexual harassment in
the workplace that were finalised in 2002. Following are the key findings
from this review.
The information available in relation
to each of the 152 complaints varied. As such, it was not always possible
to determine each finding in relation to all of the complaints. For
each of the findings below, the number of complaints for which the
particular information was available is noted in brackets.
The reported harassment was by
men against women
86 per cent of complaints involved
a man sexually harassing a woman (of 152 complaints). The remaining
14 per cent of complaints included harassment of men and harassment
95 per cent of the complainants
were female (of 152 complaints). 88 per cent of individual respondents
were male, five per cent were female and seven per cent involved
both male and female respondents (of 152 complaints).
The nature of the reported harassment
Most complaints involved multiple
forms of harassing behaviours. 71 per cent of complaints involved
verbal harassment, 37 per cent involved physical intimacy and 23
per cent involved sexual physical behaviour (of 152 complaints).
18 per cent of cases involved an
isolated incident of sexual harassment (of 136 complaints). In 22
per cent of cases the harassment had continued for more than 12
72 per cent of complainants reported
that the harassment began in the first 12 months of the complainant’s
employment (of 121 complaints). 51 per cent reported harassment
as beginning within the first four months of employment.
60 per cent of individual respondents
were in a more senior position in the workplace than the complainant
(of 161 individual respondents).
Harassment is an issue for all
forms of business
44 per cent of complainants were
employed in small businesses, 19 per cent in medium sized businesses
and 36 per cent were employed in large businesses (of 135 complaints).
51 per cent of complainants were
employed in the occupational groups of clerical, hospitality, shop
assistant and labourer (of 146 complaints).
67 per cent of reported harassment
occurred in workplaces located in cities, 31 per cent occurred in
rural areas and three per cent was in remote rural areas (of 150
- 78 per cent of complainants had reported the harassment within their
workplace (of 130 complaints).
Harassment has a cost for employers
At the time the complaint was
made to HREOC, only seven per cent of complainants were known still
to be actively working for the organisation where the alleged harassment
occurred. 67 per cent had left the organisation and 10 per cent
were on leave (of 152 complaints).
- Financial compensation received by complainants
varied from $500 to $200,000 and was most often paid by employers
rather than the individual harasser.
updated: 12 November 2003