Many people know about common types of workplace harassment, such as physical and sexual. Not as many are familiar with what’s called third-party harassment. This form of abuse comes from those who are present in the business but are not fellow employees, such as delivery people, technicians or customers.
Companies are responsible for making sure that their workers can do their job free from harassment. Even though the abusers are not direct employees, businesses still have a legal responsibility to step in. The harassment can take the form of abusive language, unwanted physical contact or discrimination.
How to respond to third-party harassment
You should never have to endure harassment while at work. If you feel uncomfortable because of an interaction with someone who has come to your place of work, there are several things you can do.
Informing your boss of the incident is the first step. Ideally, they will immediately take measures to prevent further physical or emotional harm. Steps they could consider are:
- Issuing a warning to the offender
- Keeping you away from the offender by changing your job responsibilities
- Banning the offender from the property
- Changing the companies they partner with if the offender is there to do work
If the harassment continues, but your job takes no action on your behalf, it may be time to consider your legal options. You can seek compensation for what you had to endure in a court of law.
The federal government’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has acted against companies that have failed to prevent third-party harassment as well. In late September they filed a lawsuit against a casino for failing to prevent customers from sexually harassing female employees.
It may not be commonly talked about, but third-party harassment is a threat which is necessary to be aware of. Don’t let yourself be subject to any type of abuse while at work.