10 Jan 2022

Sexual Harassment by Clients and Customers

Oftentimes, we hear about sexual harassment by supervisors and bosses. But, what happens when someone faces sexual harassment by clients or customers? How do the rights of employees come into play? 

Moreover, what responsibility does an employer bear in its protection of employees from clients and customers? Internally, it feels pretty clear-cut for many people. However, it’s not always so simple when it comes to liability and lawsuits. 

A Recent Example

In New Jersey, we can see a recent example of how a court might handle sexual harassment by clients. The court awarded an employee of a bank $2.4 million for the employer’s failure to intervene against a customer known for inappropriate behavior around its employees. 

In the claim, the allegation is that the customer sexually assaulted the employee, causing her to suffer panic attacks and anxiety. For the jury, it was clear that employers bear some responsibility in certain circumstances. Here, it is the duty of employers to protect workers from inappropriate touching, advances, and sexual harassment by clients. 

According to the employee, the bank continued to service the client despite repeated incidents of inappropriate behavior. Per the allegations, it’s believed the behavior was ignored because the client was profitable. 

What we see in this court case is that employers may bear the responsibility to protect employees from harassment. This applies when the harassment comes from a customer or client as well. 

Harassment in Texas

At our Houston employment law firm, we strive to help employees recover from sexual harassment in the workplace. Per the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment includes a range of inappropriate behaviors. 

  • Unwanted sexual advances 
  • Repeated requests for sexual favors 
  • Physical touch of a sexual nature 
  • Suggestive talk 

In Texas, employers have the legal responsibility to keep their employees safe from sexual harassment by clients, coworkers, supervisors, and more. When an employee experiences sexual harassment on the job, it is the duty of the employer to address it. Moreover, there are many ways in which an employer might address these concerns. 

  • Requesting that a customer leave 
  • Discontinuing a professional relationship with a client
  • Assigning the employee to another project

Often, it boils down to the power that a manager has to protect an employee in such a situation. When an employer has control over a workplace, they may bear the legal responsibility to stop sexual harassment by clients. 

Your Rights as an Employee

Unfortunately, many employees don’t fully understand their rights. For instance, someone might believe they can only seek assistance when the harassment comes from another employee. However, they may not realize that there is recourse when they experience harassment from a customer. 

That’s simply not true. When an employee experiences sexual harassment in the course of their job duties, they should report it to their employer. Then, the employer should take steps to put an end to the situation. 

If you experience sexual harassment by clients or customers, you have the right to request this basic protection from your employer. If your employer refuses to address the situation, and you have to leave your job or lose income, you may have the right to fight back. 

At Craighead Law Firm, we fight for the rights of workers. We may be able to help you protect your rights and recover lost income. Schedule a free case evaluation with our team to learn more. 

Steps to Take When You Feel Uncomfortable

When a client harasses you or makes you feel uncomfortable with pervasive inappropriate behavior, your first step is to report the situation. Talk to your employer, supervisor, or manager as soon as possible. The more quickly you act, the sooner they can do something about it. 

Then, the employer should take steps to address the situation. This may include direct confrontation of the situation or reassignment to take you out of harm’s way. Alternatively, they might ask the customer to leave. 

Unfortunately, servers and restaurant employees face an increased risk of sexual harassment by customers. Per a report from Eater, 37% of sexual harassment claims occur in restaurants. Still, that only covers claims. 

The truth of the matter is that 78% of restaurant employees report that they have faced sexual harassment. 

Don’t Suffer in Silence

As an employee, you never have to suffer in silence or simply accept sexual harassment by clients. Exercise your rights and speak to your employer and report the incident. No one should ever have to feel uncomfortable at work due to the inappropriate behavior of another. 

If you have questions about your rights, schedule a consultation with an employment lawyer Houston trusts. 

Unfortunately, sexual harassment at work leaves victims suffering from trauma and anxiety. Moreover, some workers feel that their only option is to leave their jobs or give up a crucial career opportunity. Some even find their careers in pieces due to the actions of their superiors. 

Sexual harassment by clients has the potential to be just as devastating. At our employment law firm, we help employees understand their positions. Call our team today to learn more about your rights and protect your future.

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