Sexual Harassment Not Limited to Employer / Employee
Boston Sexual Harassment Lawyer Tips
Traditionally, workplace sexual harassment has been defined as unwelcome verbal or physical sexual harassment between an employee of a company and his/her supervisor or co-worker. However, many courts, including the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and the Federal First Circuit Court of Appeals (which includes Massachusetts) have expanded sexual harassment to include unwelcome conduct from third parties to an employee. For example, unwelcome conduct from a vendor of an employer or from a customer of an employer on an employee can constitute unlawful sexual harassment under both state and federal statutes.
Typically, this “non-traditional” type of sexual harassment becomes unlawful only if the employer had actual knowledge of the unlawful conduct. This standard is somewhat different than sexual harassment between an employee and an employer because, traditionally, if a supervisor or manager is the harasser of an employee, knowledge is automatically imputed onto the employer. (If the harasser is a same-level or lower level employee, the same knowledge requirement exists.)
These decisions have important implications for both employers and employees. Employers must be aware that they can be held liable for the actions of third parties and should distribute workplace policies to all individuals who have significant contact with its employees. Employers should be diligent in training their management to encourage its employees to report any unwelcome harassment.
As an employee, unwelcome sexual harassment from anyone (including third parties) should be reported to management. If your employer has no clear policy on how to report sexual harassment, simply report the concerns to your manager. However, employees may not simply assume that the employer has knowledge. The first step must always be to report the problem to someone in a management role.
If you are an employee who believes you are being harassed at work by anyone and would like to speak to an attorney about your rights, please contact Boston Sexual Harassment Lawyer at 978-276-0777.