A client is sexually harassing me at work. Who is responsible?

Most employees interact with people other than their workmates. Clients play an integral role in keeping your employer in business and you in employment. Because of this, it is imperative that you uphold the utmost professionalism when interacting with your customers. 

It is not uncommon for a customer to treat an employee poorly. If you are a victim of customer-initiated sexual harassment at work, you deserve justice. But who should you hold accountable?

Your employer has a duty to create a safe workplace

Basically, your employer is responsible for ensuring your physical and psychological safety at work. This means that they are responsible for protecting you from all forms of discrimination from your co-workers, supervisors, contractors and customers. And should this happen, your employers are legally obliged to take appropriate action to protect your rights. 

If an employer knows or should have known that a client is sexually harassing you, but they fail to take steps to prevent the harassment, you can hold them liable for the harassment. 

What can you do if a customer is sexually harassing you?

To pursue your sexual harassment claim, it is imperative that you take certain steps. First, you need to document your claim. You may want to write down the date, time and location where the incident took place. If you have digital evidence like emails or text messages, be sure to keep them. And if anyone witnessed the incident, be sure to take their testimony too. 

Next, you need to report the harassment to your immediate supervisor or the HR department. It helps to review your employer’s policies and procedures to understand the process of filing a complaint with the responsible parties. 

You would expect your employer to take your claims seriously and take appropriate steps to address the matter. If they do not, you need to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Protecting your rights

Sexual harassment can be demoralizing, to say the least. Learning more about New York employment laws can help you safeguard your rights and interests if you are sexually harassed at work by a client. 


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