Friday, February 23, 2018
The issue of harassment has become a frequent topic of conversation. Employees are emboldened by the news to come forward, and in some cases, this is long over-due and will serve to bring all of us forward into Workplace Civilization 2.0. While there will be those that simply attempt to capitalize on the opportunity, other cases will be legitimate. As an employer, you should expect and prepare for claims and allegations to come forward. So, your burning question is - Where does insurance stand in all of this? As your trusted consultant, let me chime in!
• Insurance carriers offering EPLI (Employment Practices Liability Insurance, which would be the coverage to respond to harassment claims) are expecting an onslaught of claims
• Workplace harassment is prevalent – guestimation is that 25-85% of employees have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace
• The bad behavior is not discriminatory, it is found among all demographics and industries – all age, gender, race, income, occupation, position, seniority, sexuality, political or religious affiliation, marital status, etc.
• EEOC complaints have doubled in the last few months – triggering investigations
• Harassment allegations are now generating shareholder lawsuits - claims of mismanagement and failure to act causing consumer aversion and stock price drops [potential D&O insurance coverage concerns]
Actions to Consider:
• Although the law only requires Harassment training for management and executives in companies of 50 or more – it is highly recommended that companies train all employees, regardless of company size. This not only creates a more defensible position, but also sends a stronger message that such behavior will not be tolerated
• Empower employees to report on behalf of others when they see unacceptable behavior – See Something, Say Something!
• Use outside resources – for hotlines, independent investigations, policy review and incident consultation, etc.
EPLI - Employment Practices Liability Insurance is available to cover harassment claims and allegations. Policies can provide defense costs, handling expertise, and cover expense and settlement costs.
• Defense and settlement costs of harassment claims can easily exceed $150K and take 18-24 months to resolve
• EPLI premiums are based on industry, jurisdiction, company size and claim history
• Although less common, harassment can involve 3rd parties (i.e. sales rep and customer/client or employee/vendor type interactions), coverage for which should be requested in a policy
• Portfolio clients have free access to my independent HR Consultant for the “one- off, unusual incident circumstances” and HR policy questions or reviews
• EPLI carriers offer free HR consulting to policy holders
• Recommendations to attorneys that specialize in HR matters are readily available – call or email me
• Harassment Training is available from attorneys and independent HR consultants – call or email me
Most importantly, recognize that curbing harassment falls on each of us – it’s not solely an HR matter. To be meaningful, efforts need to come from multiple sources and vantage points. Have questions about EPLI insurance? Call me!
Thanks to those that contributed:
David Monks of Fisher & Philips, Renee Schor and Julie Vogelzang of Schor Vogelzang and Eileen Jolly of RT ProExec
What Clients Are Saying About Carol Corporales...
Carol is not only a knowledgeable and accessible insurance professional, she's also personable and easy to work with. Her background in technology allows her to quickly understand what our company does, and to pro-actively solve problems that other brokers couldn't. We view her as a valued member of our team."
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