Third-Party Harassment: How To React And Deal With It

Third-party harassment refers to sexual harassment if it is critical or compelling, building offensive or malicious work conditions for an employee. While many individuals comprehend common workplace harassment, such as sexual and verbal, many people are unaware of this third-party harassment. This kind of exploitation comes from individuals present in the company but are not fellow workers, such as delivery persons, professionals, or clients. 

Moreover, businesses are accountable for ensuring that their employees can perform their jobs free from third-party harassment. Even when the abusers are not immediate employees, companies still hold a constitutional liability to step in. This third-party harassment can occur in offensive language, unwanted bodily touch, or prejudice.

Is Third-Party Harassment an Illegal Act?

Under Section 26 of the Equality Act of the year 2010, third-party harassment takes place when an individual is involved in undesired behavior related to a relevant preserved nature (such as community) which holds the object or impact of either:

  • dishonoring the other individual’s dignity; or
  • forming a hateful, intimidating, discrediting, disgracing, or offensive work environment

However, workers still hold restricted protection if they were harassed at their workplace by a third person, such as a client, guest, or patient. These third-party harassment stipulations put the obligation on an organization for repeated actions of third-party harassment against its employees. 

The provisions under Section 26 prevents contractors or clients from making defamatory, racial remarks or making undesired sexual advances to employees. In addition, employees could carry a claim against their company before an Employment court for compensation if this third-party harassment occurred.

Moreover, the law holds a view that workers already possess enough remedies open to them. However, it is unclear whether workers could favorably persevere third-party harassment claims under statutory avenues such as heedlessness, constructive dismissal, and traditional harassment as specified by the Equality Act. 

Besides, considering that prospective test circumstances determine that workers can bring claims based on actions of harassment from a third party, the difficulty for companies is that these other statutory avenues do not present accurate defenses.

Employers’ Insight v/s Actuality

Companies with confined sources reasonably considered third-party harassment prevention provisions were unlawful because it is more challenging for them to monitor the acts of third parties. Nevertheless, the situations where an organization can be held accountable for third-party harassment are restricted. 

Liability solely occurs where the employer knew that the employee got harassed by a third party on at least two previous events. It failed to take such equitably practical measures to limit the harassment from happening again.  

Moreover, an employee holds a remedy against their employer if they get harassed at the workplace, but their company carries two solid defenses. If the employer did not know about the third-party harassment and could not take measures to avert it from happening for the third time, the company would not remain liable. 

How to React to Third-Party Harassment?

Employees never ought to experience any form of harassment while at work. If any female or male employees feel awkward because of communication with someone who arrived at their place of work, there are several things employees can do.

Notifying the employer of the event is the initial step. Ideally, they will promptly take steps to limit further bodily or mental harm. Mentioned hereunder are some steps an employer can exercise when an employee reports third-party workplace harassment:

  • Issuing a warning letter to the offender.
  • Holding the employees away from the offender by shifting their job roles.
  • Forbidding the offender from entering the workplace.
  • Changing the organizations with whom they partner if the offender works with the existing partner company.

However, if the harassment continues and the employer takes no action on behalf of the employee, it might be time to count upon legal options. 

Manager and Supervisors Role in Third-Party Harassment 

When a third-party harassment complaint comes to an employer’s attention, it is crucial to monitor precisely and thoroughly and record the specifics of the matters raised. For instance, the individual receiving a complaint should get training to direct questions regarding the event(s), including when, where, and how frequently the conduct happened. 

Moreover, the recipient of the harassment accusation should ensure that employees exercise their complaints earnestly and should remain ready to stop third-party conduct when required. In addition, employers must contemplate working with the reporting of the accused to identify possible resolutions to their problem. 

Apart from this, supervisors and managers should likewise get instructed on how to mediate in conditions they observe to limit or correct inapt behavior. 

In some situations, a manager’s appearance might be all that is required to prevent a third party from behaving inaccurately with their staff members. In more severe events, the administrator might need to converse directly to the third party or, if required, limit the third party from entering the premises entirely. 

Also, administrators should remain aware that they are obligated to limit harassment and other forms of prejudice from occurring. They must likewise warrant that a relevant dignity at work policy remains in place and that employees get conventional practice to stop third-party harassment issues from arising. Employers additionally need to be informed of their more comprehensive obligation to take proper care of the well-being and security of employees. 

Tips to Dealing with Third-Party Harassment 

Mentioned hereunder are top tips to deal with third-party harassment at the workplace. 

  • Incorporate third-party harassment issues in your in-house harassment policy. It ensures that the accusations of harassment of workers by third parties will remain to be exercised earnestly and relevant actions are taken regarding them. 
  • Remind authorities of how and where to notify third party harassment and take all their matters seriously.
  • Establish third-party harassment reporting mechanisms effortless to utilize.
  • Avoid informing workers that inapt behavior is simply part of the job role, and do not overlook improper conduct.
  • Speak to the employee who is putting the matter; if relevant, work with them to recognize possible solutions.
  • Train executives and administrators to recognize potential cases of third-party harassment.
  • Warrant that people who accept complaints of third-party harassment ask relevant follow-up questions and produce sufficient documentation
  • Get in touch with the council pressing concerns, including allegations of harassment or discrimination based on preserved classifications.

The Bottom Line 

Now that we have come to the end of this article, we can say that regardless of the prevailing constitutional status and how this might evolve in the future, companies must take stern actions to better tackle third-party harassment of their staff. Moreover, one crucial step every employer must exercise is to ensure that they hold a well-publicized third-party harassment policy in place. 

The fundamental step to prevent third-party harassment at a workplace is to assure that administrators and supervisors get relevant training on how to dispense with accusations of third-party harassment so that they can get addressed efficiently and manage everyone involved sensitively.

Moreover, it is likewise essential to establish the right mood and work culture in your business so that employees feel empowered to raise issues and every person knows what actions are relevant and admissible.

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