Sexual harassment is a major issue in modern work environments. There are some people who treat coworkers or subordinates differently based on their sex. There are many other people who will make a coworker feel very uncomfortable or will intentionally create a hostile work environment by abusing or flirting with a coworker.
Sexual harassment in the workplace can affect your mental health, your job performance and even your career trajectory. Not only should your employer take every reasonable step to protect you from harassment by coworkers and supervisors, but they should also protect you from client or customer sexual harassment.
Many people will misuse whatever authority they have
If you have ever worked as a server in a restaurant, and you likely know how willing some customers or clients might be to flirt with someone who is openly uncomfortable or leverage the power that comes from leaving a gratuity.
When you move into higher-paid professions, like a sales career, it could very well be the buyer at a client’s company that tries to tell you they will only place an order if you agree to a date. Sometimes, they will go even further than that. You should not have to endure unwanted advances and other forms of harassment from clients or customers even if you work in a sales or customer service position.
What can your employer do?
There are many ways that the company that employs you can protect you from sexual harassment committed by clients and customers. When you notify a supervisor about the situation, they can take over that customer’s table or that client account. They could also assign someone of the opposite sex to that account so that harassment will not continue.
In more extreme cases, like unwanted touching, they may need to ask someone to leave the business or report the matter to management at the company that employs the person mistreating you if it is a situation involving direct sales or possibly services that you provide to clients.
If your employer will not intervene on your behalf or if they punish you for speaking up, they may very well have violated your rights to a harassment-free workplace. Recognizing you deserve protection from customer-related sexual harassment can minimize the uncomfortable experiences you have at work.