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What Is a Third-Party Harassment Claim? Is My Employer Liable?

mature man harassing a female

You probably know that you have a right to be free from certain kinds of harassment at work, including sexual harassment or harassment based on your race, religion, or other protected characteristics. But what if the person committing the harassment isn’t a supervisor or co-worker? What if it’s a customer or vendor, for example? What protections do you have in those cases, and is your employer responsible for preventing or dealing with such harassment? Read on to learn about third-party harassment claims. If you are being subjected to unlawful workplace harassment in Southern California, contact Ochoa & Calderón to share your concerns with a team of experienced and dedicated Riverside employment lawyers.

What Is a Third-Party Harassment Claim?

At its core, a third-party harassment claim arises when an employee experiences harassment in the workplace by someone who is not a direct employee of the company. This “third party” could be a client, vendor, contractor, or even a visitor to the workplace. The harassment might range from verbal abuse and offensive jokes to more severe forms of harassment, including sexual harassment and physical intimidation.

Key Elements of Third-Party Harassment

To understand third-party harassment claims better, it’s important to recognize its key elements:

  1. The Harasser’s Relationship: The harasser is not an employee of the employer but has a professional relationship with the company (e.g., a client or contractor).

  2. The Nature of Harassment: The behavior must qualify as harassment under the law, which generally means it is unwelcome and based on the employee’s protected characteristics, such as race, gender, or religion.

  3. Workplace Setting: The harassment occurs in a work-related context or setting.

Employer Liability in Third-Party Harassment Cases

The pivotal question then becomes: Is the employer liable for harassment perpetrated by a third party? In California, as in much of the United States, the answer hinges on several factors:

  • Employer’s Knowledge: If the employer knew or should have known about the harassment and failed to take appropriate action, they may be held liable.

  • Employer’s Response: The employer’s response to the harassment, once it is reported or known, is critical. Prompt and effective action to stop the harassment and prevent its recurrence is expected.

  • Preventive Measures: Employers are also judged on the preventive measures they have in place, such as clear anti-harassment policies and regular training for employees and managers.

Navigating third-party harassment claims can be complex. Employment law firms play a crucial role in guiding both employees and employers through these legal intricacies. For employees, these firms can help in understanding their rights, assessing the validity of their claims, and pursuing justice. For employers, seeking legal counsel ensures they are taking the right steps to prevent harassment and responding appropriately when it occurs.

Help Ensuring a Safe and Respectful Workplace in Riverside and Southern California

Third-party harassment claims underline the importance of a safe and respectful workplace for all. Employers in Southern California must recognize their responsibility not just toward their employees but also to regulate the conduct of third parties within their business environment. As legal advocates for workers’ rights, Ochoa & Calderón is dedicated to providing expert legal guidance in such matters, ensuring that the dignity and rights of workers are upheld in Riverside and beyond.

For more information or to seek legal assistance regarding third-party harassment claims in the workplace, reach out to Ochoa & Calderón by calling 951-901-4444 in Riverside or 844-401-0750 throughout Southern California.

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