Harassment, Discrimination and Retaliation Prevention Policy

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What is a Harassment, Discrimination, and Retaliation Prevention Policy?

Part of being a business owner is protecting your employees from harassment and discrimination. Due to the climate of the current society, including social media and the protection of free speech, this can prove to be complicated. One way to help combat the risk associated with harassment and discrimination is to have a policy in place. A harassment, discrimination, and retaliation prevention policy is a written document, usually an attachment to an employee handbook, that describes what these things are and how they will be handled in the workplace.

A harassment, discrimination, and retaliation prevention policy should include what actions will be taken by you, as the employer, should harassment or discrimination be determined to have occurred. Not only will this help to deter the behavior, but it will protect your business if a lawsuit should occur. While you can customize your own written policy, your state may have specific requirements, which we will outline below.

What are the Requirements for This Type of Policy?

Be sure to check with your state department, usually the labor board, to determine what your harassment, discrimination, and retaliation prevention policy needs to have included in it. It can vary, but the most common requirements include

  • Has to be written - Certainly, you want to have your harassment, discrimination, and retaliation prevention policy in written form, not just verbal. Additionally, it is a great idea to have it signed by your employees. The policy should be reviewed and signed before they begin work. You can have a separate document for this policy, or simply add an addendum to your existing employee handbook.
  • Protected classes must be listed - Not only should you define what harassment, discrimination, and retaliation mean, but you also have to list the protected classes. These are race, color, religion or creed, national origin or ancestry, sex, age, physical or mental disability, veteran status, genetic information, and citizenship.
  • Must include how to report the behavior, and to whom - Most states will require that the employee have someone other than their direct supervisor that they can go to, to report any incidents. This is due to the retaliation portion of the policy. Unfortunately, this is a real problem in the workplace where a co-worker in a higher position will retaliate if the lower positioned employee reports them.
  • Must include a no retaliation clause - Your written policy should consist of verbiage about how no one within your organization will retaliate against the employee for making a report of harassment or discrimination.

Why Should Employers Have This Type of Policy?

As an employer, you must make your employees feel safe while at work. Additionally, they should feel like they can come to you, or whomever they are instructed to if something is happening that makes them uncomfortable without fear of retaliation. Merely having the written policy in effect can give employees a feeling of safety, knowing that these issues are at the forefront of your mind. Plus, it will make employees think twice before committing such behavior, knowing that you have a policy that they have hopefully signed and agreed to abide by.

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What Insurance Covers Harassment, Discrimination, and Retaliation?

A highly recommended insurance policy that covers harassment, discrimination, and retaliation is Employment Practices Liability insurance or EPLI. Not only does it cover these hot topics, but also wage issues, wrongful termination, breach of contract, and several other issues that can arise when you have a business with employees. It is important to note, however, that with all the available coverages, the most common claims are for harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. Even if you do nothing wrong, which these days is often the case, it will help pay for defense costs. A small business, or even a new one, could be at a higher risk because you may think you don't need this coverage. Unfortunately, even small businesses that consist of family members have seen some of these claims.

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The coverage you need depends on the type of business you run. A restaurant owner needs to be covered against customers possibly getting food poisoning while an accountant needs to be covered against calculation errors. CoverWallet's intelligent assessment system will identify the insurance you need based on your specific business, get you a policy that fits your budget, and do it all in less time than you think.

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