May an employer be liable for discrimination or harassment by an independent contractor?

Author: Beth P. Zoller, XpertHR Legal Editor

Yes. An employer may be liable for the discriminatory or harassing conduct of an independent contractor and other third parties if the employer knew or should have known about the conduct and failed to take immediate and appropriate action. An employer is liable for any conduct occurring on its premises or under its control. As a result, it is critical for an employer to have strict antiharassment and antidiscrimination policies in place that let individuals know that such conduct will not be tolerated. Further, an employer should institute a multichannel complaint procedure and immediately respond to any discrimination or harassment complaints by following up with an investigation and disciplinary measures if warranted.