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November 1, 2019

Three Keys to Prevent Workplace Harassment

Claims of harassment and misconduct 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 to help prevent and respond to claims of wrongdoing and rights violations.

Going beyond 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 judgements 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 more than 13.6 percent.

Whether sexual in nature or not, harassment claims should be avoided at all costs for the wellbeing of employees and a business’ overall health. As such, our top three tips for preventing workplace harassment 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.

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 as harassment, reporting procedures, and consequences for offenders.

Training sessions 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 acknowledgements from attendees and should be stored in human resource (HR) files.

Operate Transparently and Immediately

Swift response is key if a claim is made. Acting quickly and with transparency (when allowed), HR officials should be available for questions and concerns throughout the claim process.

Unaddressed claims or secretive behavior can create a negative and unhealthy work culture.

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.