Despite the fact that employers are not vicariously liable for third-party harassment against their employees, they have an established duty of care to do what is reasonable to protect them from such treatment in the course of their employment.
A failure to act upon an employee’s complaint that they have been harassed by a third-party, whether it be a customer, supplier or consultant, will leave the employer exposed to a claim of constructive dismissal if the employee resigns as a consequence, and, if the harassment is linked to a protected characteristic, a claim of unlawful discrimination.
Even if the employee chooses not to resign, it could give rise to long term absence on the grounds of stress and anxiety, which can be costly to manage.
Even setting aside the risks of costly litigation, employers who do not act upon such complaints risk significant reputational damage in the wake of the “Me too” campaign”. Click here for more guidance on how you can avoid this risk.
With more and more victims of harassment speaking publicly about their experiences, doing nothing is simply not an option for employers. To find out more about updating your policies or any other advice, please get in touch on 01942 727 200.