Claims of misconduct and harassment in the workplace come in many forms, from failing to create a culture free of discrimination to claims of wrongful termination and everything in between. Many organizations utilize employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) from Acrisure Agency Partners specializing in Employee Benefits programs to help prevent harassment in the workplace and respond to claims of wrongdoing and rights violations.
Going beyond commercial general liability insurance, EPLI coverage helps defend against and pay claims. In addition to promoting training and compliance to reduce or eliminate issues, EPLI programs help companies manage and transfer employment-related risks.
From Fortune 500 companies to small businesses, no organization is risk-free when it comes to harassment claims. Since the rise of the #MeToo Movement in October 2017, allegations of sexual harassment have dramatically increased. Mere allegations of misconduct end or forever tarnish some organizations; others choose to publicly battle claims and face settlements and judgments reaching into the millions.
According to a 2018 report from the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC), overall claims of workplace discrimination were down from 2017, yet complaints about employment harassment increased by more than 13.6 percent.
Whether sexual in nature or not, harassment claims should be avoided at all costs for the well-being of employees and a business's overall health. As such, our top three tips to prevent harassment in the workplace should be applied to all employers and work environments.
Set Expectations with Clear Policies
Creating clearly written policy documents is the first step in defining expectations for all employees. Your insurance broker can help provide guidance and templates.
If you're starting from scratch and need direction, contact the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for advice and resources.
Once drafted, consult a lawyer to review policies for compliance with federal, state, and local employment laws. You should also include finalized policies in an employee handbook for distribution to all employees.
Establish Comprehensive, Mandatory Training
Once policies are in place, you should conduct thorough and regular training to discuss what constitutes harassment, reporting procedures, and consequences for offenders.
Training sessions detailing how to prevent harassment in the workplace should be mandatory for all employees. Scheduling and attendance expectations should be made in advance along with specifying that there may be discipline for absences.
In addition to reviewing existing policies, sharing examples of harassment, and providing tangible takeaways for later reference, we recommend creating a code of conduct summarizing training content and expectations. These documents can serve as signed acknowledgments from attendees and should be stored in human resource (HR) files.
Operate Transparently and Immediately
Unaddressed harassment claims or secretive behavior can create a negative and unhealthy work culture, so a swift response is key if a claim is made. HR officials should be quick, transparent, and available for questions and concerns throughout the claim process when allowed.
Don't Go It Alone
Acrisure's Agency Partners are experienced in providing EPLI solutions and resources. We will act as your partner in harassment prevention including access to a compliance team with human resources support through Acrisure. Contact one of our team members to discuss your organization and its risks so we can begin developing comprehensive protection to prevent harassment in the workplace.