How to Avoid Liability for Third-Party Harassment
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Learn how to properly address and investigate third-party harassment as well as understand enforcement actions by government agencies.Many employers assume that employment discrimination and harassment laws do not protect employees from third-party harassment. As highlighted by the #MeToo movement, this assumption is incorrect. Most federal and state discrimination laws place a responsibility on employers to protect an employee who has been harassed by a customer, vendor, or member of the public during the scope of his or her employment. This information will educate you on how to identify actionable third-party harassment and understand its potential impact on the business, how to properly address and investigate the harassment, and how to limit future liability and backlash. Recent litigation, press coverage, and enforcement actions by government agencies have shown that the failure to investigate and address complaints of third-party harassment can not only result in financial liability, but can become a public relations nightmare. This information is important for any employer who has employees interacting with the public, customers, clients, or vendors so it can ensure that it is properly protecting its employees and limiting the risk of damaging its third-party relationships.
AuthorsLauren B. Harris, Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, P.C.
Spotting Third-Party Harassment and Understanding Its Effect
• Informing Yourself About Employee Interactions With Third Parties
• Understanding When Risky Situations Can Arise and How to Limit Employee Exposure
• Examples of Litigation Involving Third-Party Harassment
Addressing Third-Party Harassment
• Conducting Thorough Investigations Into Third-Party Harassment Complaints
• Mitigating the Situation With the Third-Party Harasser
• Ensuring Employees Understand the Response to the Harassment Complaints
Limiting Future Liability
• Auditing Policies and Procedures
• Educating the Workforce and Third Parties About Your Policies
• Keeping the Lines of Communication Open