Is Third-Party Harassment Unlawful? | Bantle & Levy



Is Third-Party Harassment Unlawful?

When workplace discrimination and harassment occur, the perpetrators are often other employees, supervisors, or managers. Having someone harass you in the workplace can make it difficult to perform your job duties and negatively impact your well-being. While it’s understandable that these actions and behaviors may come from those we interact with at work most frequently, the harasser might not be another employee at all.

Harassment from someone outside of your company is known as third-party harassment. You know that you have rights when it comes to another employee harassing you, but what about someone outside of the company? Many employees interact with outsiders, and being harassed at work by someone who isn’t another employee can make your job just as difficult and unpleasant.

If you’re being harassed by someone who isn’t employed by your employer, you may be wondering if this type of discrimination is still prohibited. Learn more about your rights regarding third-party harassment.

Who Can Commit Third-Party Harassment?

Various people outside of a company can commit third-party harassment. These actions and behaviors can be committed by a contractor, client, customer, vendor, and more.

However, understanding when harassment is prohibited can be difficult. Harassment is prohibited when it is based on a person’s membership in a protected class. Under federal law, workplace harassment is unlawful when enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or when the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that any reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. Because of this, “petty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious),” are not considered harassment under federal law.

New York State and New York City laws regarding workplace harassment provide even more protections for employees. These laws do not require that conduct be “severe or pervasive” for it to be unlawful. Instead, harassment can be considered unlawful if it subjects an employee to “inferior terms, conditions or privileges of employment” due to their membership in a protected class.

Who is Liable for Third-Party Harassment?

Some might think that since third-party harassment is committed by an outsider, their employer has no control over the situation. However, while the harasser is not another employee, your employer can still be held liable for the harassment.

If you’re being harassed by a third-party at work, your employer is responsible for preventing or stopping it. After making your employer aware of the harassment, they need to take action to help protect you, even though the harasser isn’t their employee. If you notified your employer of the harassment, and they did not take appropriate action, they can be held liable for the harassment.

Bantle & Levy: New York City Employees Rights Attorneys

You deserve to feel safe and respected at work. Regardless of who is harassing you in the workplace, you have rights. If your employer has failed to protect you from third-party harassment, you may still have legal options available that can help. At Bantle & Levy, we fight for the rights of New York City employees and can help you get justice for the conduct you’ve experienced.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you believe your employee rights are being violated.

Bantle & Levy
Bantle & Levy

Lee Bantle is a partner at Bantle & Levy LLP. He has extensive legal expertise, admitted to the bars of the U.S. District Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals. With a distinguished academic background and clerkship experience, he has been recognized as a top-rated civil rights attorney and esteemed lawyer. In addition to his successful career, he has actively contributed to various legal organizations and serves as a faculty member for NYU's Annual Workshop on Employment Law for Federal Judges.


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