In the latest issue of The Wright Toolbox:
EEOC Issues “Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment”
Recently, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) published informal guidance on its website about workplace harassment, entitled “Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment.” While this publication does not have the force of formal regulations or rules, the EEOC makes a number of suggestions for harassment prevention that employers may consider adopting as best practices. For example, the EEOC encourages employers to adopt policies and procedures that:
- Provide multiple avenues for making complaints.
- Periodically evaluate the effectiveness of the organization’s strategies to prevent and address harassment, including reviewing and discussing preventative measures, complaint data, and corrective action with appropriate personnel.
- Ensure that concerns or complaints regarding the policy, complaint system, and/or training are addressed appropriately.
- Direct staff to periodically, and in different ways, test the complaint system to determine if complaints are received and addressed promptly and appropriately.
- Conduct anonymous employee surveys on a regular basis to assess whether harassment is occurring, or is perceived to be tolerated.
The EEOC also suggests harassment policies that:
- Describe processes for employees to informally share or obtain information about harassment without filing a complaint.
- Include a statement that employees are encouraged to report conduct that they believe may be harassment.
- State that the employer will provide a prompt, impartial, and thorough investigation.
- Respond to complaints by employees and by other individuals on their behalf.
- Include processes to ensure that alleged harassers are not prematurely presumed guilty or prematurely disciplined for harassment.
The EEOC encourages employers to appropriately document every complaint, from initial intake to investigation to resolution, use guidelines to weigh the credibility of all relevant parties, and prepare a written report documenting the investigation, findings, recommendations, and disciplinary action imposed (if any) and corrective and preventative action taken (if any). As for training, the EEOC suggests:
- Because supervisors and managers have additional responsibilities, they may benefit from additional training.
- Employers may find it helpful to include non-managerial and non-supervisory employees who exercise authority, such as team leaders.
- Employers may consider and implement new forms of training, such as workplace civility, respectful workplace, or bystander intervention training.
In today’s world of #metoo it is now more important than ever to create a comprehensive sexual harassment policy or update your existing policy.
A Reminder to Read the “Fine Print” in Insurance Policies
By Don Walsh
A tough lesson was learned by a General Contractor who did not check the insurance policy purchased by its subcontractor. Owners and contractors typically require firms they hire to have liability insurance and name them as additional insureds should they ever get sued for negligence of the subcontractor. In a recent court decision, Walsh Construction was hit with a claim for negligence on a highway project. Naturally, Walsh made a claim as an additional insured against the policy the responsible subcontractor. Although the subcontractor identified Walsh Construction as an additional insured, Walsh failed to notice that the Zurich policy had a $500,000 self-insured retention. The court found that Walsh Construction had no greater rights against Zurich than its subcontractor and Zurich had no obligation to defend or pay any claims until that $500,000 was first satisfied. Check those policies carefully.
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