Employment Practices: Sexual Harassment Top HR Issue for Hospitality Industry
As we discussed in one of our earlier blog posts, employee liability lawsuits have risen over the last few years, including in the hospitality industry. Part of this can be attributed to a faltering economy that fuels a litigation environment; the other contributing factor is the increasingly proactive approach the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is taking in investigating claims of employment practices violations.
One of the more prevalent HR issues in the hospitality industry is sexual harassment, one of the causes for employment practices liability lawsuits. The EEOC deems behaviors as sexual harassment when victims experience unwelcome sexual advances, queries for sex, or experience spoken or acted incidents that prove sexual in nature when these acts include the following conditions:
- The alleged actions caused interference with a victim’s work, work environment, or their safety
- The rejection of sexual advances by sexual harassers caused detrimental retaliatory actions in a victim’s employment or career advancement
- The submission to sexually harassing actions was either overtly or subtly noted as a condition to the terms of employment
Although most employees and associates are well aware of what is considered inappropriate behavior in the workplace, making sure your hospitality clients apply solid sexual harassment awareness and prevention procedures to your company policies can help you avoid a costly wrongful termination suit. One key proactive measure for businesses to help stem such suits and accusations is to require that all newly hired employees enter into a code of conduct and behavior agreement that clearly outlines inappropriate behavior and the subsequent repercussions. What’s more, your clients should keeping accurate records of reported employee incidents, warnings and suspensions and follow written procedures that can help alleviate sexual harassment issues in the workplace. This may sound obvious, but so many don’t properly document what occurs at work.
In addition, Employment Practices Liability coverage should be secured to protect a hotel against the crippling costs associated with allegations of wrongful employment practices. This coverage can cover legal costs, settlements and damages assessed against an entity, and respond to claims against all employee and management levels. Your clients can turn to an EPLI policy for most claims of discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, and workplace misconduct.
Niche wholesaler Insurance Programs of America (IPOAUSA), provides programs for the Hospitality industry, including one through Lloyd’s of London that offers Property, Liability, Data Breach, Employment Practices, and Umbrella coverage lines designed for limited and full-service hotels. Give us a call at 877.653.IPOA (4762) to discuss how we can help you help your clients.