sexual harassment claims
Property Casualty

Sexual Harassment Claims in the Workplace

Miles Weis
Miles Weis
AVP, Executive Risk and Cyber Practice Leader

The topic of sexual harassment has been in the news a lot recently. In the fall of 2017, we saw many high-profile cases come to light. Matt Lauer, Harvey Weinstein, and other prominent public figures became the focus of sexual harassment and assault allegations. And with the proliferation of social media, these newsworthy matters spread like wild fires.

In addition to all of that, the feedback Holmes Murphy has been receiving from our carrier partners is that Employment Practices Liability (EPL) claim activity is up significantly year over year. In fact, one reported the number of claims jumped almost 60 percent from the same time last year. The majority of the carriers surveyed expect this trend to continue, with many noting they anticipate some form of underwriting or pricing changes in their EPL insurance models.

In 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) conducted a study that concluded that as many as 85 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. These numbers are staggering. Although the fear of retaliation from employers still exists, victims are becoming more willing to reach out for help and tell their stories. Affected individuals are starting to feel safer in reporting the incidents, and it’s very likely the number of claimants will increase accordingly.

What’s this mean to you? Well, increased awareness, new legislation, and changing social norms are creating an environment ripe for additional exposure to your business. That’s why it’s so important to proactively address these matters and be prepared to deal with the fallout if something does happen within your own walls.

Allegations of sexual harassment can have numerous negative impacts on your organization. Outside of the direct financial impacts that litigation in this area can create are loss of employee morale, productivity, and a toxic work environment. And while it may not be top of mind, there are many different insurance implications as well. EPL is the logical starting point, but it’s important to note that other coverages are being affected as well. Your company’s General Liability (CGL), Directors & Officers (D&O), Cyber, and Fiduciary coverages could all be potentially triggered. These insurance coverages aren’t all created equally, so it’s imperative your insurance program is crafted in a way that works for your company and adequately addresses these exposures.

If you have questions about this, don’t hesitate to reach out. Holmes Murphy can provide resources to help you ensure your business is prepared for this exposure. We work with the leading insurance carriers for EPL insurance. We can also tailor insurance coverages to protect your company from the “what ifs” of operating in a changing environment. While I understand this isn’t a fun topic, it is something all companies should be prepared for. So, please reach out!

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