Can a Private Citizen Sue If They’re Sexually Harassed by Company Employees?

Sexual harassment of an employee by an employer or co-worker is illegal, and the subject of many employment lawsuits. But what if you are sexually harassed at a company you do not work for? Even if you’re a customer and you’re openly harassed by an employee of the company, you cannot file a sexual harassment lawsuit. You can, however, call the corporate office to make a complaint and refuse to do business with them again.

Catcalling by Construction WorkerThis private citizen issue is similar to the idea that contractors are not subject to the same protection as regular employees.

A common example is when a customer walks into a car dealership. The car salesperson may try to hit on and sexually harass the customer, and he or she can complain. However, there are no laws that protect the customer in that scenario. Unless the car salesperson actually touches the customer, there is nothing the customer can legally do.

Sexual harassment is strictly a workplace or employment issue. A private citizen could sexually harass another private citizen but there are no legal complaints that can be made. This is something that happens regularly at bars. One patron hits on another, and is rather bad at it, or unwilling to take the hint (or outright rejection), and continues to bother the other patron. It’s annoying, and possibly even frightening, but it’s not against the law.

If there was any kind of physical assault, battery charges could be brought against the person who committed the assault, but nothing else can be done.

Basically, if you are harassed by an employee of a company you do business with, your best bet is to tell friends about it, so they can avoid doing business with that company as well.

If you have questions about sexual harassment, or believe you are being sexually harassed by a co-worker or boss, please contact the Cassis Law Office at (502) 736-8100.


Photo credit: Michael (Flickr, Creative Commons)