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Litigation, P.C. Law Firm
Los Angeles Litigation Law Firm 424-284-2401

Is My California Employer Responsible For Third-Party Sexual Harassment?


Suffering sexual harassment is one of the worst and most insidious experiences a person can go through. But when sexual harassment occurs at work, the harasser may not be the only person the victim can sue.

In many cases, employers can be held responsible for third-party party sexual harassment. Whether or not you can file a third-party sexual harassment claim against your employer after being sexually harassed by a visitor or customer, however, depends on the specific circumstances of your particular case.

The topic of sexual harassment is very sensitive. Thus, it is advisable to discuss your particular case with a lawyer to understand your rights and legal options.

Our Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyer at Litigation, P.C. will address the conversation in a confidential and sensitive manner.

What is Considered Third-Party Sexual Harassment?

An employee can become a victim of third-party sexual harassment even when they are sexually harassed by a non-employee. In particular, third-party sexual harassment involves non-employees who interact with company employees. Most often, these include:

  • Customers
  • Visitors
  • Clients
  • Vendors
  • Suppliers
  • Patients
  • Subcontractors

If any of the above-mentioned people — or another non-employee — commits sexual harassment against an employee in the course and scope of their employment, the harassed employee may have grounds to file a third-party sexual harassment claim against their employer.

However, employers in California are not always liable for all types of third-party sexual harassment.

When Are California Employers Responsible for Third-Party Sexual Harassment?

Under California labor law, all employers have a legal duty to provide their employees with a safe environment free of harassment and discrimination. The legal duty requires employers to take all reasonable measures to protect employees in all foreseeable scenarios, including the employees’ interactions with non-employees.

Thus, an employer can be held responsible for third-party sexual harassment when they fail to take reasonable steps to prevent their employee from being sexually harassed by a third party at work. In addition, your employer could be sued for their failure to adopt reasonable measures to prevent known sexual harassment from occurring again.

Example. Let’s imagine that you are sexually harassed by a customer while doing your job, and you report the incident to your employer. In that case, your employer must conduct a thorough investigation in a timely manner to reasonably prevent such incidents in the future. If your employer fails to take reasonable actions and you are harassed again, you have grounds to hold your employer responsible for third-party sexual harassment.

What to Do if I’ve Been Sexually Harassed by a Third Party at Work?

Take the following steps if you have been sexually harassed by a non-employee:

  1. Report the incident to the Human Resources (HR) department or your employer, describing what happened and mentioning the names of the employees who witnessed the third-party sexual harassment.
  2. Get a copy of the incident report. Aside from getting a copy, write down what happened and keep it for your own reference. Over time, memories can fade, so having a written description of the incident could help.
  3. Wait for your employer’s response. If your employer fails to respond appropriately to take reasonable measures, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit.
  4. Contact a lawyer. It is advisable to consult with a knowledgeable attorney to determine if you have grounds to file a lawsuit against your employer to obtain compensation for your pain and suffering, medical expenses, loss of income, and other losses.

Schedule a consultation with our sexual harassment lawyer in Los Angeles to discuss your particular case. Contact our attorney at Litigation, P.C. to determine if you can hold your employer responsible for third-party sexual harassment. Call 424-284-2401 to get a consultation.

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