When people talk about workplace harassment, employee to employee harassment is what they tend to think about. Employees in corporate environments often deal solely with other employees, and peer to peer harassment tends to be the most common form in these scenarios.
However, employees who hold customer-facing positions are much more likely to be harassed by these customers as they are by co-workers. Employees in restaurants, bars, hospitals and retail stores have the right to work in environments free of all forms of harassment. Unfortunately, much of the time, not enough is done to protect workers from customer harassment.
If you are a worker in Missouri and you have been harassed by one or more of your customers, it is very important that you understand your rights. Your employer has certain responsibilities to protect you from such harassment, and you may be able to take legal action if you do not feel supported by your workplace.
How is workplace harassment defined in Missouri?
Essentially, the way to determine whether you have been a victim of harassment in the workplace is to consider whether the behavior you experienced led to the creation of a hostile working environment. For example, if you experienced behavior from a customer that led you to feeling uncomfortable, anxious or fearful while you are working, this may constitute workplace harassment under the law.
How can action be taken against workplace harassment from a customer?
If you have experienced behavior that you would classify as harassment, it is important to record the details. In this way, you can keep documentation of any repeated behavior. You may want to raise the issue with your employer first so that they can assess the situation and take appropriate action.
If you want to file a harassment claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), you must do so within 180 days of the incident. They will then take action to investigate the incident and gather further information.
If you feel uncomfortable or fearful at work because of a harassing customer, it is important that you make sure your manager is aware of the situation. You should also make sure that they take the incident seriously and take action in accordance with your legal rights.