Employees not only have to deal with co-workers, but they also have to deal with clients or customers. Clients and customers are crucial as they keep employers in business and employees employed. Because of this, it is vital that if you are an employee who interacts with clients or customers, you do your best to ensure they are satisfied. But what happens when clients or customers cross the line when interacting with employees who are just trying to do their jobs? What if a client or customer harasses you? Is your employer liable when a customer or client harasses you? If you are an employee who is being harassed by a client or customer, you should know that federal laws protect employees from harassment by non-employees. Read on to learn more.
Employer Liability for How Clients and Customers Treat Employees
Employers have a legal responsibility to prevent abuse or harassment of employees by customers or clients. If a client or customer harasses a worker because of the worker’s protected characteristic, an employer must take steps to end the harassment. Protected characteristics of workers according to federal law include sex, age, pregnancy, color, race, national origin, and religion.
In most cases, federal laws that prohibit workplace harassment apply to harassment of employees by other employees. But, in some circumstances, an employer can also be legally responsible for harassment by non-employees, such as clients or customers. If an employer knew or should have known that a client or customer was harassing an employee but did not take steps to prevent the harassment, they can be held liable for the harassment.
Holding Your Employer Liable if a Customer or Client Has Harassed You
If a non-employee has harassed you, you can hold your employer liable if they knew or should have known that the harassment was happening but failed to take steps to end it. So the first thing you need to prove after filing a claim against your employer is that they knew or should have known that the non-employee was harassing you.
After you prove that, you must show that your employer failed to take steps to stop the harassment. When it gets to this stage, the court will likely consider how much control your employer had over the situation and the client’s or customer’s conduct.
In conclusion, you need to know that employers can raise an affirmative defense against an allegation of harassment by a non-employee. An employer can argue that they offered corrective action, but the employee failed to take advantage of the corrective action. If an employer can prove that this is true, they may not be held liable for the harassment.
Contact Us for Legal Help
If a client or customer is harassing you, notify your employer about the harassment so they can have a chance to stop it. If they do not take any steps to correct the situation, do not hesitate to contact an employment lawyer. Our qualified and dedicated New Jersey employment lawyer at Trabosh Law Firm can review your case and determine if you have a valid harassment case. If you do, we can help you seek the justice and compensation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.