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Dealing with sexual harassment at work

Sexual harassment can be written, verbal or physical. It can happen to men and women.

Sexual harassment may include:

  • unwelcome touching, grabbing or other physical contact
  • comments that have sexual meanings
  • asking for sex or sexual favours
  • leering and staring
  • displaying rude and offensive material
  • sexual gestures and body movements
  • sexual jokes and comments
  • questions about your sex life
  • sex-based insults
  • criminal offences such as obscene phone calls, indecent exposure and sexual assault

How sexual harassment can affect you

Sexual harassment can be a stressful experience.

You may:

  • feel stressed, anxious or depressed
  • want to stay away from work
  • feel unable to trust your employer or the people you work with
  • lack confidence and self-esteem in yourself and your work
  • experience headaches, backaches and sleep problems
  • have your life outside of work affected
  • be less productive and unable to concentrate

Your rights

If someone makes you uncomfortable, tell them.

Sometimes people worry others will think they are over-reacting.

No one deserves or asks, to be harassed.

It is illegal to harass anyone in the workplace.

What you can do if you experience sexual harassment

Explain to the person that the behaviour is unwanted. If the behaviour does not stop, go to the Gardaí.

Keep a record of what happened. Be as specific as possible. Include anything you have said or did to stop the behaviour. The record can be used to make a formal complaint.

If you experience sexual harassment at work

Find out what your workplace policy is on sexual harassment. It should guide you on how to report it and deal with it.

Tell someone. Report the behaviour to Human Resources or your employer. They might assist you in resolving the problem without a formal complaint.


  • if the behaviour is serious or continues, you should make a written formal complaint
  • if the behaviour continues you might need mediation
  • if the person harassing you is your employer and they do not stop, get outside support
  • It is your right to be protected at work.

Resources to help you when experiencing sexual harassment

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission can provide information. Call (01) 8583000.

Citizen's information web page on harassment in the workplace

You can report sexual harassment through the Workplace Relations.

Free Legal Advice Centres(FLAC), Call (01) 9061010

Related Content

page last reviewed: 23/09/2018
next review due: 23/09/2021

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