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Top 5 Workplace Harassment Questions

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on January 18, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

As a small business owner, you should already be aware that you have a responsibility to protect your customers and employees from harassment in the workplace. But that's a pretty broad obligation. What, specifically, do you need to do to prevent harassment? What are your legal responsibilities when responding to complaints of harassment? And do they vary depending on the type of harassment?

Here are the most common workplace harassment questions small business owners face, and where to look for answers:

1. Are Businesses Liable for Sexual Harassment by Customers?

You can't always control who walks through your front door. So are you legally responsible for controlling customers' behavior once they're in your place of business? Ignoring employee complains about harassment from customers could get you in trouble.

2. Can Religious Expression in the Workplace Be Religious Harassment?

Can one employee's religious practice infringe on another's religious beliefs? And, if so, could that practice amount to harassment? If it creates a hostile or abusive work environment, the answer could be yes.

3. How to Avoid Office Party Sexual Harassment

It's almost a cliché at this point: someone has a little too much to drink at the office party and says a lot too much to someone else. But sexual harassment at company events isn't inevitable.

4. Employee Hurt or Harassed at Company Picnic: Are You Liable?

Employees might feel like they have a bit more freedom away from their desks, but moving that company event outside the office doesn't necessary limit your liability when it comes to harassment claims.

5. Is It OK to Hug People at Work?

It might sound like a silly, rhetorical question, but one person's hug might be another's harassment. And without the hugee's consent, the hugger's intent probably won't make a difference.

If you're concerned about harassment in the workplace -- for either prevention or response -- contact an experienced employment attorney today.

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