Can employers be held liable when customers sexually harass workers? Yes, under certain circumstances. Companies have a legal responsibility to protect their workers from a sexually hostile work environment, even when the source of the harassment is a customer.
Residents of the Greenbelt, Maryland, area may recall that about six months ago a former Hyattsville police officer filed a sexual harassment lawsuit accusing the police department of systemic sexual harassment. The lawsuit included allegations of sexual assault committed by a ranking officer, as well as a sexually hostile environment within the department. The former officer also charged that she was retaliated against when she complained to her supervisors about the harassment, culminating in her termination.
Victims of sexual harassment can often obtain compensation from their employers under Maryland state law or federal law. Whether the harasser was a supervisor or a co-worker, however, can greatly affect the process and outcome of these cases.
There are certain lines of work where people can expect to encounter a fast pace, pressure and a lot of stress. Medicine is one of these areas, as is law enforcement and military service, for example. Another field that can be a confrontational place to work is politics and a recent news report suggests that Capitol Hill is becoming a more and more hostile work environment.