Sexual Harassment: Employment Liability Tipping Point
From Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein to famed television journalist Matt Lauer, to thousands of others speaking out through the social media movement #MeToo, sexual harassment allegations from individuals who claim to have been victimized by their employers and colleagues continue to surface.
“I think we’re seeing the tip of the iceberg,” agrees Jared Zola, a partner and insurance recovery expert at the law firm Blank Rome. While today it’s high-profile alleged bad actors being targeted who are very public figures in politics, media and entertainment, he thinks there will soon be “a flood of claims from employees or former employees at companies in every industry of every size.”
The industry will feel the impact because there’s not much dispute that sexual harassment is covered as a wrongful practice under an EPLI policy.
“The policy provides coverage for a wrongful employment practice, which is a defined term. One of the prongs of what a wrongful employment practice is, is sexual harassment,” Zola said.
The definition of sexual harassment under an EPLI policy can be some “actual or alleged sexual advance that is unwelcomed, that has a purpose of creating an intimidating or hostile work environment,” Zola explained. This can encompass a broad set of circumstances, however, where there’s unwelcomed attention brought on an employee by another individual at the company that creates an uncomfortable work environment. That circumstance is probably enough to trigger coverage, according to Zola.
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"Sexual Harassment: Employment Liability Tipping Point," by Andrea Wells was published in Insurance Journal on January 12, 2018.