Over the weekend, I was watching a drama on television where the plot centered on a law firm and its various office relationships intertwined with some courtroom action. Although I do like this show, it struck me that the plot had shifted from the actual court proceedings being the core of the show to those behind closed-door trysts. Definitely not a show made for young eyes!
I think you can imagine the types of situations involved here…a lot of innuendo and inappropriate behavior to go around. But if you say, “Hey Jason, this is only a TV show,” you may be surprised to find how close to real life this show is.
One of the most serious types of exposure a business can face comes from employee harassment. Put simply, all employees should be afforded the right to work in an atmosphere free from harassment. Harassment can come in many forms, from the unwanted touch by a co-worker to inappropriate jokes that would make a sailor blush. And while the harassment could be unintentional, it may still be offensive to a co-worker.
Let’s replay a scene from the show as an example. A co-worker becomes incredibly enamored with a new colleague and, in order to win some brownie points, offers to help with new projects at every turn. Throughout the show, this employee would stand over the other person’s shoulder and brush up against them from time to time . In one scene, the employee came up behind this new person, put both hands on the other person’s shoulders and began massaging them. You could see the new employee bristle and become uncomfortable. For fear of losing their job, nothing was said.
Another example from the show is a group of employees that dislikes one of their colleagues. In order to try to get the person fired, they begin a barrage of ethnic jokes hoping to elicit a response. The employee stood their ground and let the group know that nothing they could say would give rise to a response. Eventually, the group went too far and the employee struck the group leader in the face. The employee was fired for inappropriate conduct and guess what? The manager was in on this as well.
There are many employer-related exposures that face businesses today, and resolving these claims in court are costly and can damage your company’s reputation. Take the time to examine your business practices and determine how you can best reduce or eliminate this workplace exposure. Secure the assistance of your insurance agent to find out more about coverage that can provide additional protection.
So what was this show? I am not sure it matters, as any one of a number of dramas have common themes such as this. However, I have had enough… time to catch up on old episodes of The Big Bang Theory! But I would like to hear if you’ve ever dealt with an employee claim in your business. How did you handle it? And what are you doing to protect your business from claims such as these?