Sexual Harassment Cases Against Employers Expected To Surge

By Sam Wood
The Philadelphia Inquirer

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) In light of the #metoo movement many businesses are being advised to take a long, careful look at their corporate cultures to address potential problems before they erupt into courtrooms or expensive settlements.

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Expect a tidal wave of sexual harassment cases to be filed this year as victims, emboldened by the #MeToo movement, break their silence about sexual misconduct in the workplace.

Insurance industry experts, attorneys, brokers, and consultants, are warning businesses of all sizes to review their insurance policies, bolster coverage if necessary, and limit risk.

They are also advising companies to take a long, careful look at their corporate cultures to address potential problems before they erupt into courtrooms or expensive settlements.

“What we’ve seen is the tip of the iceberg,” said Jared Zola, a partner at Blank Rome’s insurance recovery group. “People who were reluctant (to file a complaint) now feel like they have a voice to be heard. They are coming out of the shadows. That’s why we’ll see more.”

The number of high-profile sexual harassment cases exploded last year, with allegations of impropriety derailing the careers of scores of powerful men including Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, TV hosts Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, actors Louis C.K. and Kevin Spacey, celebrity chef Mario Batali, and former U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.

The charges against entertainment figures and politicians have attracted the most attention, but “every company is susceptible,” said Scott Hartzell, CEO of Hartzell Insurance Associates, a brokerage based in Montgomery County, Pa.

“The world has changed,” Hartzell said. “I could tell you stories that would make you shudder.”

Hartzell insures thousands of clients across the country, mostly small businesses.

Employment Practice Liability Insurance, which covers sexual harassment and racial discrimination (along with wrongful termination and retaliation) has soared in popularity, Hartzell said.

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