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Is your employer responsible for harassment by a non-employee?

On Behalf of | Oct 24, 2022 | Workplace Harassment

You’ve always liked your job, but you don’t always like the people you come in contact with through your position. Maybe you’re a food server, and some of the customers have grabby hands. Maybe there are a lot of independent contractors used in your place of employment, and some of them think it’s okay to make suggestive comments about your looks or tell tawdry jokes to embarrass you.

Is your employer responsible for protecting you from these kinds of things? Or is this just something you have to endure?

If your employer knows, they have to step up

It doesn’t matter who comes onto company grounds and attempts to harass you – your employer has a duty to provide a safe working environment. If they witness the harassment or are otherwise made aware that it’s happening, the government expects them to put a stop to the problem.

That may mean:

  • Dropping a client from the company’s list entirely for harassment
  • Kicking misbehaving patrons out and banning them from returning to a restaurant
  • Firing an independent contractor who can’t keep their hands or mouth to themselves
  • Making a clear policy that prohibits that kind of activity on the premises
  • Requesting a different worker from repair companies and other services

Because your employer has to know about the problem in order to address it (or be held liable), the first step you should take is to communicate. If you’re meeting directly with your employer, go ahead and make your report verbally, but follow it up with a written email or text message that confirms what was said in the meeting. That way, there’s clear evidence that you asked for your employer’s help.

If your employer has failed you, it may be time to learn more about your rights when you’ve endured sexual harassment at work.