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Harassment in the Workplace

7 October 2016

The CWU take harassment issues in the workplace very seriously. The CWU maintains its zero tolerance position on Bullying and Harassment.

Understanding what constitutes Harassment


  • Unwelcomed sexual advances, propositions, demands for sexual favours.
  • Unwelcomed comments about dress / appearance.
  • Displaying offensive material, pornographic pictures.
  • Pin ups and calendars, including electronic forms.
  • Asking intimate questions about people.
  • Name calling, jokes, offensive language mocking.
  • Exclusion from workplace social activities.
  • Making stereotypical assumptions.
  • Isolating people.

Harassment is any conduct or behaviour which is unwanted, unwelcome, offensive and unreciprocated related to: Sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion/ belief, age, or any personal characteristics.

We all need a bit of humour and fun to brighten up the workplace but be aware of other people’s feelings and sensitivities when telling jokes or people not being amused at certain jokes, horseplay or behaviour.

It can still be regarded as harassment even if the perpetrator did not know they were causing offence or they were “just having a laugh”. What may be acceptable to one person may not be acceptable to another person, and that person has the right to ask the person who is carrying out this behaviour to stop.

Often the question is asked by victims “why am I being treated like this why am I being targeted?”.

Many victims blame themselves believing that it must be something they have done to cause the person to treat them like this. In most cases this is not true; the problem lies with the harasser themselves and their inability to relate effectively with other human beings.

If you are being harassed remember:

  • You are not to blame.
  • You must not feel that this is acceptable.
  • You have the right to get it stopped.
  • You have the right to complain.
  • You have a right to confidentiality.
  • You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.

What to do if you feel you are being harassed

It does not always mean a formal route has to be followed when an incident of harassment takes place. If the victim feels confident and strong enough to approach the perpetrator and ask them to stop their behaviour, making them aware why it is offensive, this normally has the effect of resolving the issue. If the victim does not feel confident then they should either approach your union representative or manager so they can have a quiet word with the perpetrator or ask the person to stop.

The CWU believes that every worker should be treated with dignity and respect. We do not tolerate harassment, bullying or discrimination – wherever it comes from. We aim to do all we can to ensure our workplaces are free from the misery caused by harassment and that all workers can expect to be treated with dignity and respect.