Faiza talks about experiencing sexual harassment at work. We explain how the Equal Opportunity Act relates to her situation, and how the Commission can help people who have a similar experience.
"When my manager started to bring up photos of me he’d seen or comments I’d made online, well, that’s when I started to feel uncomfortable. He was an OK guy, but he was way older than me and it just felt like a real power imbalance."
“When I started working at the cafe, I felt like it was such a great job – fun people, good customers, flexible rosters. It was a pretty social job, too, and I’d often catch up with the other staff after work on weekends. People would often post photos online if we went out somewhere or did something on the weekend.
When my manager started to bring up photos of me he’d seen or comments I’d made online, well, that’s when I started to feel uncomfortable. He was an OK guy, but he was way older than me and it just felt like a real power imbalance. It made me feel like he was paying way too much attention! He also made some pretty gross comments about my friends and how he found them attractive. I noticed that he was only connected to other young girls from work, none of the young guys.
Eventually he sent me a friend request on Facebook, but I declined. From that day on, he was really hostile towards me. He gave me a hard time whenever I needed to change my shifts and all his body language made it clear that I was no longer welcome there. I thought about making a complaint to the cafe owner, but the manager had worked there forever, they were good friends and I just didn’t believe they’d actually take any action.
I contacted the Commission and the staff on the Enquiry Line helped me to understand what constituted sexual harassment under the Equal Opportunity Act and what I could do about it if I wanted to make a formal complaint.”
The incidents portrayed in this story are inspired by real complaints received by the Commission, but all names and other identifying details have been changed.
How does the law apply to Faiza’s situation?
Under Victoria’s Equal Opportunity Act, sexual harassment is against the law. Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual behaviour that makes someone feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. It doesn’t have to be physical; it can be written or verbal, too. Sexual harassment can include intrusive questions about someone’s private life, suggestive comments or repeated requests to go out.
The Equal Opportunity Act applies in many areas of public life, including employment. It also covers provision of goods and services, education and accommodation.
You can make a complaint
Get help from the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.
You can make a complaint to us if you think you have experienced:
If you wish, someone else can make a complaint for you. Find out how the Commission helps people resolve complaints.
We can also give you information about your rights.
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