Most occupations require employees to interact with their employers’ clients regularly. And while most clients are generally respectful, some are not. If a client’s unruly behavior amounts to sexual harassment, you deserve justice. But can you hold your employer accountable for their client’s actions?
Your employer has a duty to create a safe and secure workplace. Specifically, both state and federal laws require your employer to protect you from any form of workplace discrimination and harassment, including sexual harassment.
Dealing with sexual harassment that is perpetrated by a client
Most anti-sexual harassment laws apply to incidents that are perpetrated by co-workers and employers. However, you may still pursue your employer for incidents that are perpetrated by non-employees like clients. This is especially true if the employer knew or should have known about the harassment but took no measure to address the matter.
To seek damages, however, it’s important that you know what to do (and what not to do). The first step you need to take following the incident is to get your evidence together. Make a point of documenting the incident as much as you can. Exactly what happened? Where and when did it happen? And who saw it? Remember, the more comprehensive you are, the stronger your claim will be should the matter go to court.
With your evidence in hand, you need to report the incident per your employer’s policies and procedures for reporting workplace harassment. Ensure that the harassment is formally documented in the incident report. At this point, you expect your employer to address the allegation satisfactorily. If they do not, you need to take the matter up with EEOC within 180 days from the date of the harassment.
Sexual harassment at work can be demoralizing. If the harassment is perpetrated by a client, you need not keep quiet about it.