Employers can be liable for harassment of workers not only by other workers, but also by customers. But often, managers who'd have no qualms about investigating—or firing—a harassing co-worker are nervous about jeopardizing a customer relationship. Here's some advice for handling this difficult situation:
Legal obligations. Your legal obligation as an employer is no different when customers are involved. Your responsibility is to provide employees with a discrimination-free workplace, not simply to refrain from such behavior yourself. Ultimately, it doesn't matter if the harassment occurs outside the workplace if it happens while the employee is "at work."
So you need to investigate, take remedial action if the charges are justified and make sure there's no retaliation against the harassed employee. As with harassment involving co-workers, your potential liability will depend in part on whether the enterprise knew, or shoul...(register to read more)