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Is an independent contractor harassing your co-workers?

The offensive behavior of anyone can create a workplace environment that becomes stressful at the very least and takes away the enthusiasm you once felt for your job.

If this has happened in your company, you may have discovered that unwelcome conduct is not limited to employees, and even from outsiders, it may be harassment.

Looking on

Let us say that the manager of your department has hired an independent contractor to take care of the computer system. He comes into the office twice a week to work on the server and install updates as needed on employees’ computers. Everything went well the first few weeks; no one had complaints. However, as he became more relaxed around the employees, this IT expert began telling off-color jokes and you saw him make suggestive comments to some of the women. You were not the only employee who became uncomfortable with this situation, but no one approached the department supervisor about it because she happens to be dating this independent contractor.

Harassment from outside

The IT expert is exhibiting behavior that falls into the category of harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The harasser is usually a co-worker, possibly a supervisor, manager or even a member of the executive staff. However, the perpetrator could also be a customer, a vendor or an independent contractor. In addition, even if you were not the direct target, because you were a witness to the ongoing harassment by the IT expert, the law may consider you a victim.

Company liability

This kind of unwanted behavior can take many forms, but both federal and state laws protect employees. Your employer may be liable for the harassment perpetrated by the IT worker, even though he is a nonemployee. Rest assured that no one has to tolerate a work environment where offensive and intimidating conduct has made another person uncomfortable.