·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary


What to Do If a Customer Sexually Harasses You

— December 15, 2022

Following your report, the employer should investigate the matter and take action to stop the customer from committing such acts again. 

Sexual harassment is terrible, no matter whom it comes from. When you have a job that requires constant interaction with customers, someone might take advantage of this in order to harass you while you’re at work. Workers always have to be kind to customers, but when someone sexually harasses you, it’s hard to maintain that wide smile. Also, you shouldn’t let an incident like this slide. Anyone who deals with sexual harassment should report it and make sure the culprit is punished. 

What should you do if a customer is sexually harassing you? Do you have the same high rate of success if the complaint is made against a customer and not an employer or co-worker? 

If you ever find yourself in this situation, it’s crucial to know what your rights are and what the next steps should be. Here’s all you need to know about this. 

Being Sexual Harassed by a Customer – Is the Employee Protected?

Sexual harassment inflicted by supervisors, co-workers, and third parties is prohibited under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. This applies as long as you are employed by a covered employer. Third parties in this case refer to customers, clients, and vendors. Therefore, it is the employer’s legal obligation and responsibility to protect you if you are sexually harassed by a customer. 

Not protecting the employee in a case involving sexual harassment can result in the employer being held liable for the suffering and pain caused by this situation. Of course, liability applies only when the employer was aware of the sexual harassment yet did nothing to stop it. 

What Exactly Is Sexual Harassment?

To recognize sexual harassment and make sure you report it accurately to your supervisors, you must first understand what it involves. 

Sexual harassment involves any sexual conduct without the other person’s consent. This can refer to physical acts, but also visual or verbal ones. So, just because there is no physical conduct, it doesn’t mean there is no sexual harassment. 

In fact, sexual harassment can also include a person making offensive sexual comments toward the employee. For instance, they can bring sexually offensive images to the employee’s workplace to harass him or her. 

Not only are such acts offensive, inappropriate, and traumatizing, but they can also make the worker feel unsafe at work. In turn, this can affect their ability to perform their job. 

What Can You Do When You Are Sexually Harassed by a Customer?

The first thing you should do if you are a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace is to let your employer know about it. You have rights if you are ever in this situation. 

As such, you should file a complaint with your employer immediately. You can reach out to the Human Resources department, then set up a private meeting with one of the representatives. This will allow you to file a complaint internally.

Waiter; image by Jessie McCall, via
Waiter; image by Jessie McCall, via

When reporting the incident, you should provide as much information as possible. Tell the representative the full details of the incident, what date and time it started, how the incident unfolded, whether the harassment was verbal, visual, and/or physical, and the culprit’s name if you know it. 

As a result, a written report with all the information will be compiled. Also, you should request a copy of the document to check out the accuracy of the information. 

Following your report, the employer should investigate the matter and take action to stop the customer from committing such acts again. 

Should You Hire a Lawyer?

According to statistics, 43% of men and 81% of women have dealt with sexual harassment throughout their life. In California, you can file a complaint with the EEQC within 180 days and a complaint with the DFEN within three years. Hiring a Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney can ensure the success of this case. Getting a lawyer is a must if your employer fails to stop the client from sexually harassing you despite being aware of the situation. 

A lawyer will analyze how weak or strong your claims are and will help you gather evidence to help your case. 

The Bottom Line

Sexual harassment still happens in the workplace, with both men and women experiencing such behavior from customers while they’re at work. If a client sexually harasses you, you must report this behavior to the employer so he or she can take action as soon as possible. Your superiors have the obligation to investigate the case and ensure your safety.

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