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Who is responsible for client or customer discrimination?

On Behalf of | Jun 16, 2023 | Workplace Discrimination |

When you leave home for work each morning, you hope to perform your duties to your employer’s satisfaction. On the other hand, your employer has a duty to create a safe and conducive work environment. The last thing you look forward to is a hostile work environment. 

Unfortunately, workplace discrimination is not uncommon. And sometimes, it can be perpetrated not only by the employer or co-workers but by customers or clients, as well. What happens if you are discriminated against by a client?

Understanding third-party discrimination

As an employee, chances are you interact with your employer’s customers on a regular basis. Third-party harassment happens when your employer’s clients, vendors or independent contractors treat you unfairly based on your age, race, religion or other protected characteristics. Just because the discrimination is coming from the client doesn’t make it acceptable. 

Of course, your employer has limited control over their customers than they do employees. However, they still have a duty to create a safe workplace. Because of this, your employer has a legal duty to address the matter. If they knew or should have reasonably known about the discrimination, yet they failed to step in and do something to prevent its continuance, then they can be held responsible for the third party’s actions. 

Protecting your rights

Discrimination at work can make it difficult for you to feel safe and perform your duties. If the discrimination is perpetrated by a third party, you shouldn’t feel as if there is nothing you can do about it. First, you need to bring the matter to the attention of your employer. And if they fail to take steps to address the issue, you need to file a formal complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Commission and seek legal guidance to further understand your options.


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