In a discussion about discrimination and harassment, you hear many employers in real fear that they may not be properly protecting themselves against lawsuits. As your business grows, it becomes harder and harder to be aware of every discussion or personality in your business. Many businesses hope that their commercial insurance or errors and omissions insurance protects them should a claim arise. Sadly, it is not that simple. Here are some ways you can protect yourself:
Harassment and Discrimination Training
It’s very important that you are regularly training your employees on appropriate conduct for the workplace. It may seem obvious but many employers have been found liable when they’re not conducting regular harassment/discrimination training. Make sure this is documented and done by a qualified individual.
Having an employee handbook is important. Inside the manual, you can clearly set out your company’s policies toward improper conduct. You may feel this is obvious, but it’s always important to assume that your staff are not aware unless you tell them in writing.
Keep abreast of what’s going on and document everything. Many employers let that joke go or have side conversations about the incident. If you hear something that even may be considered inappropriate by an employee, talk to the employee who did the conduct, document it, and ensure they get corrective training. Do not just let things go, that’s how problems build up. Ignoring or letting things go can lead to future problems because an offensive employee has no reason not to view the employer as consenting to their conduct.
You can’t rely on typical commercial insurance to protect you. These policies usually have specific exceptions for discrimination and harassment claims. It’s strongly recommended that you obtain EPLI, which is Employment Practices Liability Insurance. This type of insurance protects an employer against claims made by employees alleging discrimination (based on sex, race, age, sexual orientation, or disability, for example), wrongful termination, harassment and other employment-related issues, such as failure to promote.
Having your own business is tough, but you can protect yourself from consequences of employee conduct by doing the proper training, documenting, and having the proper business insurance. Whether you are in San Ramon, Danville, Walnut Creek, San Francisco, or anywhere in California, you are welcome to contact me to answer your business insurance questions.