What Is Third-Party Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a problem that’s as destructive as it is pervasive. 

As a form of sex discrimination, it is illegal under federal law outlined by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. At the state level, it is prohibited by the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and recent legislation expanded sexual harassment training requirements. 

Of course, the type of sexual harassment most people would think about when considering these laws is that which occurs between employees or in an employer-employee circumstance. That may leave some to wonder about situations where an employee is being sexually harassed by the employer’s customers or clients. 

Fortunately, there’s a term for this type of workplace transgression: third-party sexual harassment. Although not as widely known, third-party sexual harassment is just as unlawful and employers are just as obligated to intervene when it’s reported. 

What Your Employer Must Do 

If you have been sexually harassed by your employer’s customers or clients, your employer is obligated to immediately act to protect you against further harassment. It’s crucial that you report what happened as soon as possible so your employer can act as soon as possible. 

A potential complication is that your employer is not as empowered to reprimand a third party as they could do to an employee. In other words, while an employee who is sexually harassing you can be punished in a number of ways, not many of those methods apply to a customer or client. 

Actions that your employer can do may include the following: 

  • Demanding the third party leave the premises 
  • Requesting a client send a new representative 
  • Removing you from the offending client’s account 
  • Ensuring you and the client or customer are never alone while at work 
  • Dropping the client altogether 

You should be wary, however, that whatever actions your employer takes, they cannot be to your detriment. This means your ability to earn your income, the amount you earn, the benefits you’re entitled to, other rights at work, and more can’t be adversely impacted by your employer’s actions to protect you from sexual harassment. 

If your employer failed to act or took action that placed you at a disadvantage at work when you reported third-party sexual harassment, you may be entitled to seek fair and just compensation through legal action. 

Learn more about your options by getting in touch with our attorney from Limonjyan Law Group today! Call us or submit an online contact form to reach out to our attorney.