State and federal laws prohibit employers from discriminating against workers because of their sex or gender. Sexual harassment falls under the umbrella of discrimination based on sex. An employee who is sexually harassed by an employer, supervisor, or co-worker may file a complaint. The employer is required to take action to prevent further harassment.
However, sometimes, the harassing individual is not an employer or employee. Third-party harassment occurs when a non-employee harasses an employee. If you were harassed by a vendor, contractor, customer, or other non-employee at work, read on to learn more.
Is My Employer Responsible for Harassment Committed by Non-Employees?
Employers have a legal obligation to ensure the workplace is safe. This includes taking reasonable steps to protect employees from third-party harassment. Employees should not have to tolerate sexual harassment, intimidation, or assault from clients, customers, delivery persons, vendors, independent contractors, or anyone else at work. If you were harassed at work by a non-employee, report the harassment to your employer. Your employer is legally obligated to investigate the situation and take corrective action. Employers may be liable if they ignore third-party sexual harassment and fail to take corrective action after a sexual harassment complaint.
Consider the following example:
Mary is a server at a restaurant. A group of regulars consistently make sexually explicit comments to Mary. Sometimes the harassment even escalates into unwanted physical contact. Mary tells her employer about the ongoing harassment, but he explains that the restaurant cannot afford to lose business. He tells her to tolerate the harassment. In a situation like this, Mary may have a valid claim for hostile work environment sexual harassment.
What If My Employer Retaliates Against Me for Complaining?
Many victims of sexual harassment fear reporting the harassment because they are concerned about the potential for retaliation. They may worry that their employer will cut their hours or even fire them. Fortunately, laws protect employees who report sexual harassment. If an employer demotes, fires, or takes other adverse action against an employee for filing a sexual harassment complaint, the employer may be liable for damages. The sexual harassment victim may be entitled to back pay and other remedies.
Contact a DuPage County Sexual Harassment Lawyer
If you have experienced third-party sexual harassment at work, you should know that you have rights. If your employer does not address the harassment or retaliates against you, the employer may be liable for damages. To learn more, contact the knowledgeable Wheaton sexual harassment attorneys at MKFM Law. Call 630-665-7300 for a confidential consultation.