Sexual Harassment by Customers – Holding New York Employers Liable

New York Sexual Harassment Lawyers Hold Employers Accountable for Harassment by Customers

New York sexual harassment lawyers file claims against employers who fail to protect workers from harassment by third parties. Many people know that employers are liable when employees face harassment by supervisors and co-workers in the workplace. What many people don’t realize, however, is that employers may also be liable when employees encounter harassment by non-employees such as customers, vendors, and clients.

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and numerous other statutes and regulations in New York and across the nation, sex harassment involves unwelcome conduct based on the victim’s gender that is so pervasive that it creates a hostile working environment. It can also include threats of negative employment consequences if the victim does not comply with a supervisor’s requests for sexual favors.

In all cases of sexual harassment, an employer is required to take reasonable steps to stop the harassment. The failure to adequately do so may result in a finding of legal liability. In certain circumstances, the same may be true when it comes to harassing behavior by a third party.

If you are experiencing sexual harassment by a co-worker, supervisor or third party, attorneys at Leeds Brown may be able to assist you to file a claim against your employer. Our New York sex harassment lawyers understand the complex nature of such cases and can help navigate the filing of a complaint with the proper agency and the pursuit of a lawsuit if appropriate. Our lawyers have the tenacity and skill required to prevail in sexual harassment cases and have a proven track record of obtaining successful outcomes for our clients. Contact Leeds Brown to discuss your New York sexual harassment claim.

What is Third-Party Sexual Harassment?

For behavior to constitute unlawful sexual harassment in the workplace, it does not necessarily need to be the behavior of a co-worker, manager or supervisor. Third party harassment exists when a customer, client or vendor sexually harasses an employee. Other typical perpetrators of this type of harassment include independent contractors who perform work for the employer and employees or contractors of outside companies who regularly come onto the business property. Outside companies often include maintenance, catering, and security companies.

For example,

  • A female employee visits an important customer at their office headquarters several times a year. The manager of the office “hits on her” and with each visit becomes more persistent in his advances. She protests repeatedly, and he continues his behavior to a point where she no longer feels safe visiting this customer.
  • A restaurant waitress serves customers who grope and touch her in ways that are unwelcome. The customers make inappropriate comments about her body and face making her feel uncomfortable and frightened.
  • An executive assistant’s duties include greeting clients and setting them up to meet with his supervisor. One of the visiting clients repeatedly asks him on a date. The executive assistant says no several times, states that he is married and not interested, but the client continues to try to persuade him.
  • Every morning, an employee walks past the same security guard at the entrance to her building. The guard is an employee of an outside security company. The guard tries to block her from passing by, asking for a hug first. Despite her refusals, he continues to ask.

New York Sexual Harassment Attorneys Hold Employers Responsible for Third Party Sexual Harassment

Employers have a duty to take reasonable steps to keep the workplace free from sexual harassment. This responsibility exists whether or not the harassment is carried out by an employee, a customer, client, contractor or vendor. Just like “regular” sexual harassment, third party harassment must be pervasive or severe enough to create a hostile or abusive work environment.

An employer can be held liable for the third party sexual harassment if it knows or should have known about it and failed to take immediate and appropriate action to correct the problem. Employers do not always have significant control over third parties so it can be difficult to prove that an employer should have known about harassment. Many times the harassment takes place off-site. It is important to notify your employer or the human resources department immediately if you are experiencing sexual harassment by a third party, so there can be no question as to whether or not the employer knew about the offensive conduct.

Corrective action by an employer to stop third-party harassment can vary depending on each situation. The level of control over third parties differs depending on the specifics of the relationship. If an outsider sexually harasses you, there are some things you might reasonably expect your employer to do, such as,

  • Investigate the problem
  • Speak with the customer, client or vendor about the harassment and tell them to stop
  • Place another employee on a particular account or in a particular position
  • Terminate the relationship with the outside entity or person

No employer may legally retaliate against or punish the victim of the harassment. If your employer’s solution to the problem was simply to pull you from a lucrative assignment, demote you to a different position or act in some way that negatively impacts your employment, this might be unlawful retaliation. Not only may your employer be liable for the harassment, but it may also be liable for retaliation.

New York Sexual Harassment Lawyers Help Victims File Claims

If you have been the victim of sexual harassment by a third party, it can be a difficult and emotional time. Many victims of harassment are afraid of speaking up for fear of losing their job or being labeled a trouble maker. But employers have obligations to their employees. These obligations include keeping the workplace free from sexual harassment and taking action to discover and correct harassment when it occurs.

When your employer fails to take proper steps to put a stop to harassment by a third-party, or retaliates against you in some way, you may be entitled to recover damages. By filing a claim with the proper administrative agency, you can begin the process of enforcing your rights to a safe workplace.

Contact Us

New York sex harassment attorneys at Leeds Brown have been handling employment discrimination cases for hard working New Yorkers for decades. If you have been a victim of sexual harassment, you should have attorneys who understand the complexities of the many employment laws and procedural rules that can apply to any given situation. At Leeds Brown, our lawyers will review your case, and use our team based and hands-on approach to work with you to determine the best way to proceed to produce the results you want.

Leeds Brown New York sexual harassment lawyers have the right combination of skill and passion that has helped thousands of clients achieve successful outcomes. Contact our office for a free case evaluation. Someone is available to take your call 24/7. Protect your rights to a safe workplace by calling New York sex harassment lawyers today at 1-800-585-4658.