Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Kristen Hilton said employers have legal responsibility to protect employees against sexual harassment.
"Sexual harassment in the workplace should absolutely be front of mind for employers and employees. Over the last 12 months we have seen multiple reports in the media of sexual harassment across many industries– its prevalence, the harm it causes victims and the consequences it can have for perpetrators.
"Everyone has the right to be treated with respect at work. Unwelcome sexual advances or other conduct of a sexual nature can lead to humiliation and intimidation and are unacceptable in the workplace.
"We advise employers to be vigilant and send a reminder to employees that the same code of conduct applies at the Christmas party as in any other workplace environment," Commissioner Hilton said.
Commissioner Hilton also encouraged people to report sexual harassment when it occurs.
"If you think it is sexual harassment, then it probably is. We know that making complaint can be difficult but increasingly we are seeing that people are not prepared to experience this type of treatment any more. It is unlawful and unethical. We also encourage friends and colleagues to stand up for each other if they witness unacceptable behaviour."
Commissioner Hilton said that sexual harassment could include emails, voice messages and text messages as well as actual physical behaviour.
"Sexual harassment is any behaviour of a sexual nature that is unwelcome and unasked for. It can be physical, verbal, written or visually offensive material."
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