7 min read


Last updated August 2023

This chapter explains what constitutes workplace harassment, and how to prevent and respond to it in your workplace.

What is workplace harassment?

Definition: Harassment

Harassment is unwanted behaviour that offends, humiliates or intimidates a person, and targets them based on a characteristic such as their gender, age or ethnicity.
Important: The term 'workplace' has a very broad meaning in the law and includes:
- the office or other main location for undertaking work;
- places other than the usual worksite at which work is also performed, e.g. outdoor locations; and
- venues where work functions are held, such as restaurants or bars.

Whether behaviour is harassment will depend on the specific circumstances. The following are common examples of behaviour that may be considered harassment:

  • verbal abuse or comments that degrade people because of a protected attribute, such as race or age;
  • displaying or circulating offensive material in the workplace, e.g. material that is racist or degrades a particular religion;
  • offensive jokes or gestures that belittle a protected attribute;
  • initiation ceremonies that involve unwelcome behaviour, particularly if that behaviour has sexist or racist overtones; and
  • ignoring, isolating or segregating a person or group because of a protected attribute.
Important: Harassment often goes hand in hand with bullying.