Sexual harassment can occur in many ways, justifying a claim

On Behalf of | Jul 26, 2021 | Employment Law, Harassment |

In Colorado, people who are facing workplace wrongdoing might not be fully aware of the law when it comes to unusual situations. Many might consider inappropriate behavior like sexual harassment to only lead to a viable claim if it is done by a co-worker, a supervisor or the business owner. However, anyone can commit sexual harassment including a contractor or a customer. This is compounded when the victimized employee complains about it and the employer either does nothing or commits an employment violation of its own. Keeping track of current cases in which this is an issue is useful when trying to understand how to seek compensation. It is also useful to know what the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says about these circumstances.

Pharmacist’s case against employer will be allowed to proceed

A case in which a pharmacist at Walgreens asserted that she had been sexually harassed by a customer and whose complaints about it were met with inappropriate comments from her employer will be allowed to move forward. She is claiming discrimination and retaliation. Walgreens had asked for the case to be dismissed. However, the judge stated that there were issues that were worthy of going to the jury. These included the investigation of the initial incident, if the workplace was an environment rife for abuse and if the supervisor to whom the victim complained said she should take the customer harassment as a compliment.

The claim was filed in January 2020. The alleged victim said that she was subjected to sexually-charged comments from several customers from the time she started working at the location in March 2019. When she told the manager about it, he suggested she should feel as if it was a compliment. She also complained to a district manager, but nothing was done. She claims she requested a transfer, but was rebuffed. She received negative feedback saying that she was in violation of company policies, but she asserts that this was retaliation. The company says there were other problems with the employee including that her temperament was problematic.

How does the EEOC categorize customer sexual harassment?

According to the EEOC, any form of sex-based harassment is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It does not differentiate between the genders of the people involved; who is doing the harassing; if it is a person who was harassed or a witness to the harassment; and whether the victim suffered economic damage or was dismissed. The behavior must be unwelcome to violate this law. With that, a person who is not employed – like the customers the woman says were harassing her – can commit sexual harassment and it may justify a legal claim. Employers are advised to take whatever steps are available to help prevent and put a stop to the behavior.

Employees must be cognizant of their rights to a harassment-free workplace

A lack of understanding as to employment law regarding sexual harassment might stop people who have a case from pursuing it. Many people find themselves dealing with customers or others who are not employees at their workplace making sexually harassing comments or escalate their behavior into unwanted touching and more. Before simply accepting the mistreatment as if there are no alternatives, it is useful to have professional assistance to determine the preferable strategy.