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Is your employer responsible for customers who cross the line?

Working in an industry with close customer interaction is fairly common. The hospitality business is all about customer-oriented fare and services.

As an employee in this business, what do you do if a customer sexually harasses you or treats you inappropriately? A grab or a comment from a customer may leave you feeling disgusted and helpless. If the behavior is common in your workplace, you may have a right to hold your employer responsible.

Sexual harassment at work

A place of business should not make one feel violated. Whether the abuse takes place at the hands of a co-worker or a customer, the employer may need to take action. When the harasser is another employee, the company can take swift action to dismiss the guilty party. However, when the harasser is a customer or client, what can the employer do to stop the unwelcome behavior?

Measures to protect employees from outside harassment

If someone comes to your job and treats you in an inappropriate manner, federal law gives you the right to report the incident to your employer. Businesses must take action against harassment by customers. A manager should investigate the issue, speak to witnesses and document the findings. The employer may then warn the harasser that the behavior could result in a ban if the unacceptable behavior does not stop, and follow through by telling the customer not to come back.

If an employer does nothing

When you experience harassment at work, no matter the cause, your employer must take action. Exposing a customer's inappropriate behavior should prompt your employer to act without delay. Failing that, you have the right to file a lawsuit against your employer for facilitating third party harassment.

Speaking to an attorney may help, especially when dealing with a third party harassment issue. Every employee deserves to feel safe around the workplace.

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