Skip links

Who’s Responsible When A Customer Harasses An Employee?

Florida attorney L. Reed Bloodworth is the managing partner of Bloodworth Law with offices in Orlando and Winter Haven Florida.

Bloodworth Law handles employment litigation for Florida employers facing federal and state legal disputes with employees on a range of issues.

Bloodworth Law partner and employment litigation attorney J. Kemp Brinson shares his insights on issues faced by employers’ employment claims in Florida. He addresses the question: Who’s Responsible When A Customer Harasses An Employee?

Who’s Responsible When A Customer Harasses An Employee?

So, who’s responsible when a customer harasses an employee? The obligation is on the employer under Title VII to prevent the harassment of their employees, prevent the creation of hostile work environments, according to attorney J. Kemp Brinson

Address Complaints, End Harassment

And if there are complaints, to address those complaints and make sure that whatever conduct is occurring that could be considered a hostile work environment, that it’s ended.

Kemp emphasizes: “Nothing in that explanation did I say anything about who the perpetrator was. It really doesn’t matter.

Employer Must End Abusive Conduct

Kemp said that “if an employee is being subjected to abuse from a vendor, from a customer, from the people in the office next door, and the reason they suffered that abuse is because they’re at work, then the employer has the burden of putting an end to that conduct once they find out about it.

Doesn’t Matter Who Is Harassing: Stop It

So it doesn’t matter if it’s a customer. It doesn’t matter if it’s a vendor. It doesn’t matter if it’s a next-door neighbor, Kemp said.

Don’t Subject Anyone To A Hostile Work Environment

If the reason the employer is suffering the abuse is because the employee is at work, then arguably the employer has a duty to make sure that they take reasonable steps to prevent the employee from having to be subjected to a hostile work environment.

No Contact With Harasser

So, that may mean making sure that that employee doesn’t have to have contact with that customer. It usually would not mean having to fire that customer, but if there’s no other option, it might rise to that level.

Address And Stop Harassment

But they need to address it and make it stop, and make sure the person doesn’t have to put up with severe and pervasive verbal abuse in the workplace.

Attorney J. Kemp Brinson is a 2019 to 2022 Super Lawyer for his work in Employment Law.

Talk to Kemp, and to Managing Partner L. Reed Bloodworth and the employment law team about issues concerning you as a Florida employer to find out how Bloodworth Law can help you, your employees, or your business.

Consider sharing this post