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How do I stop sexual harassment from a non-employee?

Seattle, WA |

I work as a barista and have a customer who comes in frequently and makes lewd comments about me (comments on how I dress, repeatedly asks me on dates, sexual innuendoes). I've informed my manager but since this man comes into the cafe before my manager does in the morning she claims she can't do anything. Is there any way for me to protect myself from this man?

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Attorney answers 2


"but since this man comes into the cafe before my manager does in the morning she claims she can't do anything." That reason would not hold up in court or in an Human Rights Commission investigation.

The manager can get up early and come to the business and deal with the situation.

The law is clear that an employer must take appropriate steps to prevent sexual harassment of its employees by persons who come to the business. (No, firing the employee would not be a lawful step.) If the customer does not stop the harassment, the business has the power to ban the customer from the premises. If the customer returns after being served with a trespass notice, the police will haul him to jail.

If your employer will not follow the law, you can file a complaint with the WA Human Rights Commission at .

In WA, the antidiscrimination law generally applies to businesses with 8 or more employees. However, in cases of sexual harassment, the WA Supreme Court has held that the law applies to even employers with only one employee.

While filing a complaint directly with the HRC is free, the HRC does not represent individuals. You may want to hire your own attorney.


This really is something that one would expect an employer to assist with since it deals with a problem customer. Make it clear to your manager what is happening and ask how your manager expects you to deal with this. Be firm but polite to the customer that you have no interest in him. Document your reports to your manager, maybe use email. I would also suggest that you call an employment law attorney in your locale for an hour consult, even if you have to pay for an hour's time. Good luck.

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