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The customer is not always right when it comes to harassment

Waitresses and bartenders often deal with unruly customers. Some customers may drink too much and make inappropriate comments towards a female waitress. The patron may even hit on the waitress, offering their phone number, requesting that the waitress follow them home or even physically put their hands on her. While the waitress probably doesn't welcome the behavior, it is all part of the job, right? Wrong.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from sexual harassment, and as we mentioned in our prior post, harassment can occur outside of the male supervisor, female subordinate relationship. In fact, the legislation requires employers to take action when a patron is harassing an employee, and this law covers workplaces across the nation, including those in Kansas City.

Recently, a female healthcare worker filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The woman worked as a receptionist with the healthcare company. She said that on several occasions, a patient sexually harassed her. She reported instances in which the man said that he visualized her naked, asked her to run away with him and even solicited sex. The healthcare company put theory that the "customer is always right" ahead of the employee's right to a workplace environment free of harassment and nothing was done.

"Once an employer is put on notice that any of its employees are being subjected to sexual harassment, it must take prompt corrective action to stop it," said the regional attorney with the EEOC district office where the claim was made. This failure to act is a violation whether the harassing party was an employee or not.

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "Southwest Virginia Community Health System Sued for Sexual Harassment," Sept. 9, 2012

If you have been the target of sexual harassment, our website provides not only access to information, but access to those who can help.

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