Sexual harassment can make going to work a miserable experience. When people that you work with make jokes at your expense, create a hostile work environment or talk in ways that make you very uncomfortable, doing your job will become much more stressful than it needs to be.
Often, sexual harassment at work comes from a boss or a co-worker. However, customers can easily engage in behavior that constitutes sexual harassment. Even if your employer has a policy stating that the customer is always right, they still have an obligation to protect you from sexual harassment from customers.
What does customer sexual harassment look like?
Like employee-to-employee sexual harassment, harassment by customers can take numerous forms. It might look like someone making repeated crude statements about your appearance and their attraction to you or even threatening to withhold the gratuity if you don’t give them your phone number.
Sometimes, customer sexual harassment crosses the line and becomes assault because they grab you or touch you inappropriately. If you can report such behavior from a co-worker, you should be able to report it from a customer.
What should your employer do?
When you tell your supervisor that a customer has sexually harassed you, they should seek to intervene immediately. Sending someone else to handle that customer or asking them to leave the business would be appropriate. You should not face any punishment for sticking up for yourself.
Taking action when an employer punishes you for reporting sexual harassment or doesn’t try to stop it will help to protect you and the people you work with from any ongoing abuse at work.