Bullying and sexual harassment

Information about what to do if you are experiencing bullying or sexual harassment at work.

Bullying is repeated unreasonable behaviour against a person. It could be from your supervisor, colleague or manager and it could include:

  • being harassed at work
  • nasty comments about your personality or appearance
  • being teased, belittled or demeaned 
  • inappropriate touching, including pushing and shoving
  • being treated differently or unfairly to other staff
  • being allocated inappropriate or unfair workloads and tasks
  • being deliberately set impossible deadlines or workloads and set up to fail 
  • being excluded from workplace activities.

Sexual harassment is an unwelcome sexual advance or request for sexual favours or unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature that would make a person feel offended, humiliated and/or intimidated. It can be a one-off incident or repeated behaviour and could include:

  • unwelcome touching, hugging or kissing
  • staring or leering
  • sexually suggestive comments and jokes 
  • referring to co-workers using suggestive or sexualised names
  • unwanted invitations to go out on dates
  • requests for sex
  • intrusive questions about a person’s private life or body 
  • sexually explicit emails or text messages
  • a hostile workplace environment

Bullying is against the law. If you are experiencing bullying, you may be able to:

  • talk to the person involved directly, if safe to do so and you are comfortable with doing this
  • speaking with your manager or supervisor
  • speaking with the Human Resources team, if your workplace has one
  • reporting the behaviour to your union, if you are a member
  • reporting the behaviour to a Work Health and Safety Officer
  • follow any policy that your workplace has in place for dealing with bullying
  • apply for an anti-bullying order from the Fair Work Commission
  • if the bullying involves unlawful discrimination, make a complaint of discrimination to Anti-Discrimination NSW or the Australian Human Rights Commission
  • complain about a breach of work health and safety laws to SafeWork NSW
  • take other legal action, for example, a general protections claim to the Fair Work Commission.

If you are experiencing bullying at work, you should get legal advice. 

Sexual harassment is against the law. If you are experiencing sexual harassment, you may be able to:

  • speak to someone at your workplace that you feel comfortable with about the issue
  • make a complaint Anti-Discrimination NSW
  • apply to the Fair Work Commission for an order to stop the behaviour
  • report the issue to police, if you have experienced serious sexual harassment or sexual assault.

If you are experiencing sexual harassment at work, you should get legal advice. Legal Aid NSW can provide legal advice about sexual harassment at work.