Third-party harassment is still harassment

by on October 12, 2012 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Cafe

Don’t forget: An employee can be sexually harassed by someone other than a co-worker, and supervisors need to take complaints of third-party harassment seriously.

At a health center in Troutdale, VA, this didn’t happen. The result: An EEOC lawsuit against the employer.

Here’s what did happen, according to the EEOC: For months, a patient at the health center would ask the receptionist to run away with him and suggest they have sex. At least once he said he’d imagined her naked. The receptionist complained, but her supervisor did nothing.

Employees or outsiders
Supervisors are responsible for preventing workplace harassment of employees by other employees or outsiders. The latter includes customers, vendors, patients, or anyone who comes in contact with employees in the course of their work.

If an employee tells you an outsider is harassing him or her, investigate and act as you would for a claim of co-worker harassment.

Cite: EEOC v. Southwest Virginia Community Health System.

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