Are Employers Responsible for Third-Party Harassment?

cashier and customers

Unfortunately, there have been instances where third parties, like customers and vendors, harass employees of an establishment. And if you ever experience this, you may be unsure how to handle it. Read on to discover whether employers are responsible for third-party harassment and how a seasoned New York discrimination lawyer at Bell Law Group can support you throughout.

What are common examples of third-party discrimination?

First of all, third-party harassment may be conducted by any non-employee of a company. But common examples are as follows:

  • Independent contractors that have a business relationship with a company.
  • Employees of different companies that perform work at the company (i.e., electricians, plumbers, construction workers, etc).
  • Vendors of a company.
  • Clients of a company.
  • Customers that frequent the establishment.
  • Delivery drivers that frequent the establishment.

Though it is not the only case, sexual harassment is the most common type of third-party harassment in the workplace. Examples are as follows:

  • A third party repeatedly asks an employee for a date, even though they consistently express “no.”
  • A third party repeatedly makes suggestive comments when they come across an employee.
  • A third party repeatedly makes racially-charged comments toward an employee.

Are employers liable for third-party harassment?

Simply put, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act holds that employers must provide their employees with nondiscriminatory working conditions. Such nondiscriminatory working conditions may not only be influenced by coworkers but by third parties alike. And so, this standard applies to coworker harassment along with customer-based and vendor-based harassment.

With that being said, employers are responsible for taking appropriate, corrective actions when third-party harassment is reported so that it does not reoccur. The first step toward achieving this is by informing the third party that such harassing behavior is forbidden, and then immediately separating them from the employee and the premises. Soon after, an employer should consider the following to minimize the chances of third-party harassment happening again:

  • An employer should confirm that their company policies mention that third-party-based harassment is prohibited.
  • An employer should conduct an investigation of the incident.
  • An employer should consider ceasing the business relationship with the offending third party.
  • An employer should offer the employee the opportunity to work in an area where there is no contact with the offending third party.
  • An employer should offer the employee the opportunity to file a protective order against the offending third party.
  • An employer should offer the employee the opportunity to call law enforcement.

If your employer fails to take the above actions, they may be a liable party in an employment discrimination claim. Though, you should not confront your employer alone. Instead, you should acquire the support of a competent New York employee rights lawyer. We look forward to helping you.

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