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I’ve been harassed by a client. Who is liable?

On Behalf of | Oct 12, 2023 | Employment Law

Today’s workplace can be quite chaotic, not just because of the busyness of the day, but also because of the nature of the clients that employees interact with. Depending on your industry, you will find yourself dealing with clients from all walks of life. 

Both state and federal laws protect employees from workplace harassment and specifically prohibit hostile work environments. But what happens if you are sexually harassed by your employer’s client? Would you have a case against your employer?

Dealing with client harassment at work

Every employer has a legal duty to create a safe and secure workplace that is devoid of any form of abuse. If a client harasses you based on your protected characteristics, however, then your employer has a responsibility to address the matter. 

In most cases, anti-discrimination laws apply to harassment that is perpetrated by fellow employees. However, you can hold your employer legally responsible for harassment that is perpetrated by non-employees like clients. This is especially true if your employer knew or ought to have known that a customer was sexually harassing you but did nothing to address your predicament. 

Holding your employer liable for the harassment

If you are sexually harassed by a client, you need to act fast. Legally speaking, you have 300 days from the date of the harassment to act. This underpins the importance of gathering your evidence as fast as you can so you can prove that your employer knew or should have known about the harassment.

After proving this, you need to show that your employer took no meaningful action to stop the harassment. At this point, the court will likely seek to establish how much control your employer had over the circumstances that led to the harassment. 

A hostile workplace can be demoralizing, to say the least. If a client is sexually harassing you at work, bring the matter to your employer’s attention so they can take steps to stop it. And if they don’t address your concerns, do not hesitate to explore your legal options.