What is my legal recourse to take action for a harassing/stalking client?

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What is my legal recourse to take action for a harassing/stalking client?

I work with a client who has schizophrenia and for the past year has been harassing me (taking videos and photos of me without my knowledge, following, sexual/verbal harassment, inappropriate emails and calls, etc). I also have many other clients I work with and this issue takes my attention away from them, however I have no authority to have to the client leave the program. None of my higher-ups have taken any steps to remove this client from the program, though he has been suspended multiple times with no significant changes in behavior. It’s getting to the point where I have severe anxiety.

Asked on June 17, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You most likely do not have any recourse against your program UNLESS the client actually injures you or causes you some loss; then you could potentially hold the program liable for their negligence (unreasonable carelessness) or willful bad behavior in not taking reasonable steps to protect you. But in the absence of harm, you most likely cannot compel the program to remove the client. You could make them aware of their liability risk--i.e. that if anything happens to you, you will hold them accountable.

You could attempt to argue that this is sexual harassment by your employer: while the client is not an employee, your argument would be that he is being sanctioned, if not even encouraged, to harass you by your supervisors' refusal to act, and thus try to hold them accountable for his actions. This is not necessarily a straightforward or easy case to make, but is something you could explore with an employment law attorney as an option.

You could potentially file for a protective order against the client and/or at least report his behavior to the police--you do not give up your rights as a citizen or person to be safe from threates and harassment just because of your job. If your employer takes action against you for doing that, you may be able to file legal action against them on the grounds they are penalizing you for reporting a violation of criminal law.

In short, though, you don't appear to have good or easily accessible options--you can try to advance a sexual-harassment-by-proxy argument, and/or report your own client to the police.

 


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