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Third Party Sexual Harassment in California

Written By: Mo Eldessouky Updated On: July 10, 2024 | Read Time: 7 Minutes

In California, employers can indeed be held responsible for third-party sexual harassment incidents. This means they’re obligated to ensure a safe and harassment-free workplace, even if the harassment comes from customers, clients, or other third parties. Failing to address such situations appropriately can lead to legal liability, emphasizing the importance of proactive measures to prevent and address harassment from all sources.

Whether you’ve been with your company for five months or ten years, you deserve to be treated well on the job. That said, if you suspect that you’ve endured a case of third party sexual harassment in the workplace, you’re probably upset—and eager to take action. It is important to know your rights, so we have decided to compile a comprehensive guide to third party sexual harassment in the workplace.

At Eldessouky Law, we believe that all employees should be protected against sexual harassment at work, and we also believe in providing justice to anyone who has been a victim. If you think that you potentially have a case, you should pursue it, so we are going to give you some more information about what constitutes third party sexual harassment, here. By the end, you’ll know what your rights are under the California law.

What is Third Party Sexual Harassment?

In California, harassment by individuals not employed by your employer is termed third-party harassment. This encompasses harassment by clients, customers, vendors, or any other non-employee who interacts with employees during the course of their work.

To understand third party sexual harassment, it is crucial to understand what sexual harassment means at large. Let’s discuss some information about what sexual harassment in the workplace can look like.

Sexual Harassment

According to the Civil Rights Department of the State of California, sexual harassment is any instance where someone is discriminated against based on their gender or sex (whether that discrimination pertain to pregnancy status, self-expression, sexual orientation, or otherwise). There are many different ways an employee can be sexually harassed in the workplace. Sexual harassment can constitute:

  • Nonconsensual advances.
  • Offering perks or promotions in exchange for sexual acts.
  • Crass gestures or messages.
  • Unwanted comments.
  • Physical pursuits or touching.

These acts are all protected under Title VII of All of Civil Rights Act of 1964, so all these instances could warrant you taking action against your company in California if they occur on the job. But, still, what exactly is third party sexual harassment? Third party sexual harassment is a little bit different than sexual harassment at large, so let’s talk more about that now.

Third Party Sexual Harassment

Whereas regular sexual harassment might be conducted by your employer or coworker, third party sexual harassment is an act of sexual harassment that is not done by someone affiliated with the company. Instead, you have been abused by someone outside the company at work, if you’re a victim of third party sexual harassment.

You might be wondering, “If my employer or coworkers aren’t the ones conducting the act of harassment, who would be around to do such a thing?” This is a valid question, but it’s important to remember that employees interact with far more people at work than just their boss and coworkers. Victims of third party sexual harassment might be abused by:

  • Delivery drivers on the premises.
  • Clients or customers.
  • Visiting professionals.
  • Contracted lawn or cleaning professionals.
  • Visitors.

Although it is unacceptable if an employee endures an instance of third party sexual harassment in the workplace, the good news is that you are often protected under California law. This is what you should know about your rights regarding third party sexual harassment as a California employee. 

Who Can Be Victims of Third Party Sexual Harassment?

It is important to note that it is not only women who can be victims of third party sexual harassment. Regardless of your sexual orientation or gender, you can be a victim of third party sexual harassment, if you have been harassed on the basis of your gender or sexuality. Men, women, and gender non conforming people alike can experience third party sexual harassment in the workplace.

What Does California Law Say?

To avoid sexual harassment in the workplace, California law mandates all employers who employ more than five people to provide sexual harassment prevention training to their staff. That said, it is hard for an employer to ward off third party sexual harassment, because a third party is not employed by your company in any capacity.

Even so, employers are still obligated for third party sexual harassment that happens at their place of work, per California law.

There are a few things you should know regarding third party sexual harassment. For one, you cannot file a claim against your employer unless the employer has been alerted about the act and does not take action. So, if you tell your employer that a delivery driver has made passes at you, and your employer does not do anything to remedy this situation, you might have a a case in this instance. You can find more information about this in the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). All of this is to say that you have grounds to take action against your employer if they have not taken action to help you after a case of harassment by a third party individual.

What Constitutes Third Party Harassment?

Just like sexual harassment at large, similar acts are considered examples of third party sexual harassment, assuming they are done by a third party. So, if these acts have been completed against you by a third party individual—and your employer has not taken action to help you—you may have grounds to act against your employer:

  • You have been called names or slurs.
  • You have been promised benefits for sex.
  • You have been insulted or threatened on the basis of gender.
  • Your work duties have been compromised because of someone’s advances.
  • You have been given packages or pictures that are sexual.
  • And more.

So, if you believe you are a victim of third party sexual harassment, it is crucial for you to speak with a qualified attorney who can help you seek justice.

What Makes a Third Party Sexual Harassment Case Successful?

Each third party sexual harassment case is different, so never be afraid to pursue a case if you think you have one. That said, your case is more likely to be successful if your abuse has been reported to your company.  When your abuse has been reported already, your company is now liable to take steps to stop the sexual harassment you’ve endured. Reasonable action is required after sexual abuse occurs in the workforce. So, if your company does nothing or they do not take meaningful steps that stop your abuse, they are more likely to be found guilty in trial.  

What Do You Do If You Suspect Third Party Sexual Harassment?

Now that you’re more familiar with what third party sexual harassment is, it is important to know what to do in order to get the justice you deserve. For employees who believe they have been a victim of third party sexual harassment, it is best to do the following:

  • Stay calm: Even though it is tempting to panic—or even quit your job—know that it’s possible for you to receive the help you need.
  • Collect evidence: If you have been given lewd images or have witnesses that you can call on, for example, go ahead collect whatever evidence might support your case.
  • Consult the professionals: You are not alone when you’re enduring a third party sexual harassment case. Professionals like our team of attorneys at Eldessouky Law can help you navigate this process with ease.

There are a few things that you should avoid doing, if you suspect that you’re a victim of a third party sexual harassment case. If you believe you have a case of third party sexual harassment on your hands, do not do the following:

  • Have anxieties over the validity of your case: Far too often, victims believe that they are exaggerating or do not have a valid case. Do not victim blame yourself—you and your experience are valid.
  • Drag your feet: If you think you have been a victim of third party sexual harassment, the worst thing you can do is fail to take action. Instead of waiting for the abuse to get worse, move forward with your case.
  • Think you’re alone: If this abuse has happened to you, then it is likely that it has happened to other people at your place of employment as well. Know that moving forward and taking action can be the thing that saves other employees from being abused in the future.

All in all, if you think you have experienced sexual harassment by a third party in the workplace, you need to contact professional attorneys to help you through the situation. Our team is eager to answer any questions you might have about your particular situation.

Examples of Third Party Sexual Harassment

Earlier, we described some things that might constitute third party sexual harassment in the workplace, like:

  • Being called names and slurs.
  • Being pursued in a sexual manner.
  • Being sent sexual pictures.
  • And more.

While all of these things—and so many more acts—can be examples of third party sexual harassment in the workplace, it is also vital for you to understand that each case of third party sexual harassment is different. So, if you believe that you have experienced abuse, it is likely you have. If you have questions or concerns about your own experience, you shouldn’t hesitate to get professional help.

Every single third party sexual harassment case is unique, so you deserve unique attention. 

Reach out to Eldessouky Law about Your Third Party Sexual Harassment Case Today!

Ready to get the justice you deserve? If you are, then it’s time for you to reach out to our team of experts at Eldessouky Law. At Eldessouky Law, we have experience in the industry, and we are ready to help you figure out how to take the next steps toward justice in your third party sexual harassment case. For more information about our services for Californians, make a phone call to Eldessouky Law.

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