Third-Party Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is any undesired behaviour directed at a person in the workplace that results in humiliation or intimidation. A manager, coworker, or subordinate can sexually harass an employee. Sexual harassment can sometimes be perpetrated by people who do not work for your organization. Employees might be sexually harassed by clients, vendors, independent contractors, or customers.

Harassment in the Workplace:

Whether sexual harassment is perpetrated by employees or outsiders, it is the employer’s responsibility to take action to stop the harassment or face legal consequences.

Employers must respond appropriately to workplace third-party harassment to safeguard employees from humiliation and intimidation by clients or vendors. When an employee is harassed at work, they feel extremely agitated, which harms their productivity and morale.

What is Third-Party Sexual Harassment?

Third-party sexual harassment refers to sexual harassment perpetrated by someone who is not an employee of the organization. Customers, clients, or vendors who come to the office or contact the personnel may be the ones who harass them. Employees of a different company who come to offer various services to your organization, as well as independent contractors working for the company, may be targets of harassment. Caterers who provide for company events, for example, or security guards who are responsible for the protection of the building where your firm does business are examples of this.

Examples of Third-Party Sexual Harassment:

When sexual harassment is severe or pervasive and results in an abusive or unpleasant work environment for an employee, it is referred to as third-party harassment. There are numerous instances of third-party harassment that can occur in the workplace:

  1. A delivery man requests a date with the corporate receptionist, who declines, but the same delivery man continues to want a date with the receptionist and refuses to accept her response. He makes a comment about the receptionist’s attractiveness every time he arrives to deliver an item.
  2. During a business lunch meeting, a client intentionally grabbed an employee inappropriately, ignoring the employee’s request that the client stops touching them inappropriately. 
  3. A customer flirts with the salesperson all of the time and asks inappropriate personal inquiries. The salesperson is ashamed as a result of this. 

What Should You Do If You Suspect Workplace Harassment from a Third Party?

Employers should ensure that their employees are aware of third-party harassment and what they should do if they face unacceptable behaviour from vendors, clients, or customers to promote a harassment-free workplace. If you had previous knowledge of the harassment and did not take immediate and adequate action, you are legally accountable for the sexual harassment of your employees by a third party. When a client harasses an employee, for example, the employer should investigate right away to find out what’s going on. If an employer discovers inappropriate activity, he or she should take action right away.

Employers should avoid penalizing employees who have been sexually harassed. It is prohibited to retaliate against employees who report sexual harassment by clients, vendors, or customers. Claims of third-party harassment can be difficult to handle, whether you’re an employer or an employee. A corporation must carefully protect its employees while attempting to maintain excellent working relationships with outsiders. Employees must also be aware of their rights, which include the freedom to work without fear of retaliation for reporting sexual harassment.

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