When you think about workplace sexual harassment, it may bring to mind people being harassed by their colleagues or bosses. Clearly, an employer has a duty to act in such cases.
But what about when it is initiated by someone who does not work for the victim’s employer? Is this situation still the employer’s responsibility?
Employers must offer all employees a safe workplace
Employers have a duty to protect their employees from sexual harassment that comes from any direction, not just from within the company. For example, if a delivery driver turns up and makes lewd comments to the receptionist, it’s the employer’s responsibility to deal with it. While they are not directly responsible for that driver’s behavior, they are responsible for the safety of their own employees.
If someone sexually harasses you at work, no matter who they are and what form it takes, you have a right to expect your employer to step in, even if they risk upsetting a customer by doing so. In fact, you also have a right to expect them to take preventive steps in the first place to make it clear that employees are to be treated with respect.
Yet, some bosses expose their staff to sexual harassment anyway. Look at some of the uniforms servers in bars and restaurants are expected to wear. It’s clear their employers believe treating their worker’s bodies as a commodity is acceptable. Think about the message that sends to the customers. Even something such as telling servers to smile is problematic. It teaches customers that they have a right to more than just efficient service.
If your employer has let you down and failed to give you the protection you deserve, you may benefit from exploring your legal rights and options accordingly.