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Workplace Harassment: A Major Employment Practices Problem


Employment Practices Liability Insurance Provides Cover for Workplace HarassmentEmployment Practices Liability Insurance Provides Cover for Workplace Harassment

Workplace harassment is approximately 30% of all charges filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). As a result, the agency is working to leverage its resources to have a greater impact on this persistent employment practices problem. This translates to identifying underlying problems in workplaces and industries where the EEOC sees recurring patterns of harassment, developing strategies focused on targeted outreach and education as well as systemic enforcement to promote broader voluntary compliance.

In fact, as we discussed when the EEOC first released its Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) for years 2013-2016, one of the Commission’s goal was to conduct an outreach campaign aimed at both educating employers and employees as important strategy to deter future violations. To this end, EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang during a recent Commission meeting announced that she’s establishing a task force to convene experts from the employer community, workers’ advocates, human resources experts, academics, and others in a broader effort to identify effective strategies that work to prevent and remedy harassment in the workplace. “Through this task force we hope to better reach workers to ensure they know their rights and to better reach employers to promote best practices,” Yang said.

According to Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President of the National Women’s Law Center, who spoke at the EEOC meeting, while one in four women face harassment in the workplace, many are hesitant to report it. “Workers in low-wage jobs often have little bargaining power and can least afford to risk their livelihoods by reporting harassment,” she said. Women who have succeeded in breaking into higher-paid, nontraditional jobs have already overcome many hurdles, including cultural biases against their participation in nontraditional fields. Because of the significant barriers to entry, women who suffer harassment in nontraditional jobs may be especially unlikely to report harassment for fear of retaliation, said Goss Graves.

Moreover, individuals with disabilities are also subjected to harassment. The EEOC heard from Jane Kow, principal of HR Law Consultants, who underscored the need for training of management, supervisors, and co-workers alike about the repercussions when mistreating employees with disabilities, as well as a firm’s obligation to provide reasonable accommodations. Also discussed at the meeting was the impact of social media, which has spawned employee complaints of harassment, defamation, violation of a right to privacy and a host of other claims.

The takeaway from all of those attending the EEOC meeting was that the most effective way to combat harassment of all types was through awareness and training at all levels of employment and management. Employers must implement best practices to prevent and address harassment.

Insurance Protection

In addition, having proper insurance in the form of Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) is critical in protecting companies in the event of allegations of workplace harassment and other claims that violate employment regulations and law. EPLI is designed to protect companies against claims or lawsuits filed by employees, former employees and employment candidates regarding their employment relationship with an employer. It insures against claims of discrimination (based on age, sex, race, religion, color and national origin, disability), sexual harassment claims, wrongful termination (including constructive discharge and retaliatory discharge), infliction of emotional distress, violation of the Family Medical Leave Act or other leave laws.

 

The cost of this insurance is affected by factors such as the size of the company, the type of business, the number of employees, where the business is located, the number of claims and lawsuits previously filed and the length of time the company has been in business. Additionally, other factors will be considered in determining the premium and structuring a policy best suited for the company.

 

At Axis Insurance Services, we can help you obtain the right EPLI policy and structure the coverage to address the exposures your company faces. We partner with several top, nationally recognized insurers that specialize in employment practices liability insurance and can find the right policy for you. Give us a call at (877) 787-5258.

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Blogged on: January 28, 2015 by Mike Smith
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