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Can an employer stop worker harassment from customers?

Going to work should not result in dread and fear. However, for some residents of California, the thought of dealing with harassment on the job is real.

The federal government created laws that govern how employers should handle harassment of employees by other employees. What if the offender is not an employee, but a client? Do sexual harassment protections extend in this instance? Familiarize yourself with the options available when a client crosses the line.

Report the incident as soon as it occurs

Harassment may manifest in many ways, but the one constant is that it threatens or harms someone. It may result in physical or emotional hurt that profoundly affects the victim. When a customer makes you feel uncomfortable or outright touches you, the first step is reporting the details to your boss. If a superior is not available, contact your company’s human resources department.

The employer should take steps to rectify the situation

Once an employer knows a customer harassed an employee, action may occur. If the act was overt and harmful enough, you and your employer should contact the authorities. Whether the customer is familiar or not may determine the steps both your employer and the authorities take. For example, if you work in a restaurant and a customer threatens you with harm, the employer may reach out to police because the customer is not likely to return. However, if you work in an office and a vendor’s rep makes that same threat, the employer can take action because it is a person who frequently returns.

Customer harassment is a serious problem

Across some industries, customer harassment of employees is rampant. The hospitality industry is one place where customers may believe they have the right to touch those waiting on them. While these actions may not always seem harmful at the moment, they still constitute harassment. Customers may feel free to express an opinion about an employee’s gender, race or sexual orientation.

Employers must take action to protect employees from harassment, regardless of the source. Should you find yourself in a bad situation, working with an attorney may make a significant impact on your claim.

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