Third-party harassment: The other #MeToo.


Sometimes, harassment comes not from co-workers or supervisors, but from others in your workplace, such as customers, clients or vendors.

The source of the harassment doesn't matter to a court. What matters is that the employer knew about the harassment and didn't take adequate steps to stop it or prevent it from happening again.

As harassment cases spike during the #MeToo era (see page 8), the EEOC is taking this "see something, say something" reporting requirement very seriously. As the EEOC said recently, "Supervisors should know that inaction is not an acceptable response," even if the harassment comes from a nonemployee.

Case #1: The wrong response. When a nurse at a Mississippi assisted living facility complained to her boss that a patient groped her breasts, the boss laughed and refused to change the patient assignment. She was eventually fired. She sued and a judge sent her case to trial, citing the manager's inaction. (Gardner v. Plaza, 5th Cir.)

Case #2: The right response. When a school music teacher complained that some students made sexually derogatory comments at her, the school...

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