The #MeToo and #TimesUp movement is fairly new but sexual harassment is not. Women, usually the victims of sexual harassment at work, are just no longer taking the abuse. They are finding their voice, speaking up and demanding change causing human resource departments across the nation to scramble to reform their ways and find new solutions.
The movement has resulted in more workplace complaints, companies fine-tuning their policies and procedures and even developing new prevention education.
Enter Work Shield and its ERISA-qualified Employer Harassment Prevention Plan (“EHP Plan”), a new and innovative workplace harassment solution that works for everyone and is offered by The Plexus Groupe. This plan can be purchased and added at any time. The Work Shield solution provides an independent platform for employees to address -- and employers to prevent -- harassment issues in the workplace.
As set forth by the EEOC, more than 33 million women have experienced sexual abuse and about half of those incidents took place at work. However, that number may be low because according to the EEOC, 75 percent of workplace harassment incidents go unreported.
Most victims of workplace harassment don't report the incident because of fear - fear of not being believed, fear of retaliation, fear of losing their job, fear of being ridiculed, and fear of having the incident “swept under the rug”, among other factors. Employees rarely feel safe and protected with their employer's current sexual harassment policies and procedures.
Work Shield serves a third party that provides a safe and secure conduit between all parties involved in a workplace harassment incident. An employee who is feeling harassed can use the Work Shield platform to report the incident on a HIPAA-secured portal – both anonymously and not.
Once an incident report is filed, Works Shield and its team of experts begin an investigation that is based on listening and understanding, while finding the facts surrounding the incident.
Within 45 days, Work Shield will provide an incident report of the findings and make a qualified recommendation to the employer regarding the incident – all with compliancy, confidentiality (as it relates to keeping the matter between only those applicable parties) and sensitivity as the key components to the determination and recommendation.
The existing system of handling workplace harassment issues is broken. The only resource for employees is to file EEOC charges and even lawsuits. Oftentimes, these employees win – BIG – due to an employer not appropriately handling, investigating and procuring the right solution. Since 2010, companies have paid out nearly $700 million in settlements to victims of workplace sexual harassment.
Workplace harassment not only impacts companies through legal costs, but impacts job turnover, sick and low productivity. It is estimated that companies spend an additional $327 million –on these three issues due to workplace harassment. In total, that’s over $1 billion dollars spent on workplace harassment in the past seven years.
But for the price of a cup of coffee per employee per month, the Work Shield platform is the key to preventing and resolving workplace harassment before it gets to a hefty and costly lawsuit.
Have questions regarding Work Shield, this newsletter or other employee benefits matters? Contact a client service team representative from The Plexus Groupe in Deer Park, Ill. (847.307.6100), Chicago (312.606.4800), Dallas (972.770.5010), or Oklahoma City (405.840.3033).
We’re here to help — and we’re happy to help.