What should I do if I’m being sexually harassed by a client or customer?

By Jack Tuckner, Esq.

If you’re in a situation where you’re being sexually harassed by a client or a customer, what should you do about it? The same thing you’d about it if you’re being sexually harassed in your workplace by a coworker, a supervisor, a manager, or a big boss: Report it. You are protected from unwelcome sexual advances, inappropriate comments, personal comments, sexualizing behavior, anything that makes you uncomfortable based on who you are as a man or a woman. And you know what sexual harassment is, whether it’s hostility based on your gender, whether it’s simple asking you out or telling you how you look, comments on your appearance, questions about your personal life, relationships, sexual preferences, anything that feels to you like harassment based on your gender or sex is a reportable event. And you don’t need to accept it. Even if the client or customer is very important to your company, that’s not relevant.

That’s not the law , so, report it, and the best way to report it is in writing. You could tell someone you could say to the customer or client. I don’t appreciate that. You’re speaking to me this way also, but you would want to make sure that your company knows about this unwelcome sexualizing, objectifying, inappropriate behavior, because it’s your company’s responsibility to take action to protect you, period. And so you don’t want to just tell somebody that–you could tell them, but make sure that you also send an email preferably or a formal letter, even a text, if you have to, as long as they respond to your text and you have a text thread, so you can prove that you’ve made this protected civil rights complaint to your company about sexual harassment, because then your company has to investigate it, correct it, protect you from it one way or another.

Whether it’s through telling this customer, he or she’s not welcome, whether it’s stopping doing business with this company, customer or not permitting this customer to see you, when this customer is doing its business with the company, your company must protect you. And most important, the company can’t treat you worse because you’ve stood up to this important customer’s sexualizing behavior toward you. That’s not important. It doesn’t matter. And if your company fires you because the customer, the client or the vendor even, is more important to the company, you are, that is illegal sexual harassment and illegal retaliation. That is a wrongful discharge. And you can take action against your company to teach your company a lesson. If you need assistance with your own sexual harassment situation in the workplace with a customer, vendor, or client, feel free to reach out to us by phone, by email, by text. And we will be happy to consult with you, provide a free case evaluation to see how we may assist and empower you in your workplace. This is Jack Tuckner with the New York law firm of Tuckner, Sipser, Weinstock & Sipser. Take care.