Share on Facebook
Share on X
Share on LinkedIn
By Louise Herman

When you go to work, you should be able to do your job without hindrance. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, especially for those who work in customer-facing roles. If you are facing harassment or discrimination from a customer or vendor, you do not have to endure it. However, you may not know whether or not your employer is supposed to handle the situation for you. Keep reading to learn more about how to navigate instances of third-party harassment and discover how a Providence County, Rhode Island employment lawyer can help you.

What Is Third-Party Harassment?

When you are at work and interacting with clients or customers, you may endure harassment or discrimination from those outside of your company. This includes sexual harassment, racial discrimination, and other forms of targeted abuse based on ethnicity, religion, gender, disability, and other protected classes.

For example, if you are a woman who handles business relations for your company and you meet with a potential vendor, they may refuse to speak with you. Instead, they request a man, as they must be “much more apt to handle business discussions.” Similarly, a customer who treats mistreats employees of color by referring to them with stereotypes or slurs is also discriminating against and harassing staff.

You may also face discrimination by an independent contractor who is contracted to do work for your company. For example, you may experience sexual harassment when the contractor arrives to complete work on your job site.

Is My Employer Obligated to Help?

Unfortunately, many assume because the person is not employed by their company, their employer has no obligation to help. This is far from the truth. As your employer, they are responsible for protecting their employees. When you approach a manager or owner after experiencing discrimination from a customer or client, they must take your report as seriously as if you were reporting internal harassment.

Even if you have not yet reported the instance but a manager sees the interaction, they must document it. This includes launching an investigation, creating a file to report findings, and taking action to ensure you are safe. This must be done even if it puts the business relationship in jeopardy.

If your employer does not take the necessary steps to remedy the situation and prevent it from occurring again, they may be liable for their inaction.

When you experience harassment, it’s essential to understand that your employer is obligated to help you. If possible, you should write down when and where the harassment occurred and who was there to witness it. In the event that your employer does not take the necessary steps to help you, you’ll want to contact an experienced attorney from the Herman Law Group to help you receive the justice you deserve. Contact our legal team today to learn how we can help you.

About the Author
At Herman Law Group, our focus is on safeguarding the rights and careers of employees and businesses alike. With over 35 years of successful legal practice, Louise A. Herman brings an invaluable dual perspective from representing both employees and employers. This unique insight allows us to effectively achieve successful outcomes for our clients in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and nationwide.