You Will Have a Harassment Claim This Year – Now What?
The Courts, legislature, and plaintiffs’ bar have focused their energy on the #MeToo movement over the last several years, making it increasingly difficult for employers to defend against harassment claims. This includes legislative guidance making it tougher for employers to dispose of meritless harassment claims in Court, preclusions on the ability of employers and employees to enter into settlement and release agreements that contain confidentiality provisions, and, most recently, a tripling of the statute of limitations for employment claims. These changes not only create an uphill battle for all California employers, but also make harassment claims that much more appealing to plaintiffs’ attorneys. Come to this presentation to learn how to best equip your company, your managers, and human resources team to cut off potential harassment claims before they become an issue and the steps you can take to ensure your best defense possible if, and when, these claims arise.
In order to minimize your company’s risk, join Fisher Phillips partner Tyler Rasmussen at a PIHRA 2020 Legal Update near you. Tyler Rasmussen will discuss the changing landscape of FEHA claims, the types of lawsuits we anticipate becoming more prevalent, and the interplay of these new laws with other legislative changes such as banned arbitration agreements and no-rehire provisions. This session will go well beyond your basic anti-harassment classes to discuss the necessary updates for existing company policies, how to train managers and supervisors to avoid seemingly innocent situations that often lead to harassment claims, and the best ways to effectively respond to complaints of harassment – both unfounded and substantiated. Tyler will provide you insight as to how attorneys view, analyze, and evaluate harassment claims – a far different vantage point from the normal Human Resources trainings.
Tyler Rasmussen will provide takeaways such as:
• How to train managers and supervisors to avoid seemingly innocent situations that often lead to harassment claims
• The best ways to effectively respond to complaints of harassment – both unfounded and substantiated
• Provide you insight as to how attorneys view, analyze, and evaluate harassment claims – a far different vantage point from the normal Human Resources trainings
Tyler’s PIHRA 2020 Legal Update, session “You Will Have a Harassment Claim This Year – Now What?” will be informative and entertaining. It’s a must-attend for California employers who need to know about these complex legislative topics. Above all, business owners and HR pros will gain the insight needed to navigate the trickiest new 2020 employment laws in California.
Speaker Spotlight: Tyler Rasmussen, Fisher & Phillips
Special thanks to contributing writer and PIHRA Programs Chair, Baskaran Ambalavanan. Baskaran conducted this interview with PIHRA 2020 Legal Update speaker Tyler Rasmussen.
PIHRA: In addition to the mandated training, what other things can CA employers do to avoid harassment claims?
Tyler Rasmussen: The normal anti-harassment training is a great start; however, the employers that are best at avoiding harassment claims are those that teach their managers to identify situations and complaints that can easily turn into litigation, empower them to quickly and effectively engage with HR and upper management to investigate and properly handle complaints (including removing any stigma associated with seeking help), and create an outline for a thorough and uniform process that establishes a strong record in favor of the employer. Specifically, a record with some key facts and buzzwords that evidence the Company’s compliance with applicable California laws.
Can you share two tips or best practices in handling the harassment claims?
Tyler Rasmussen: A quick, prompt, and thorough investigation is imperative to handling any claims of harassment, and of course: document, document, document. The documentation of your investigation, evidence, and reasoning behind your findings can make or break your case. Employers have the easiest time defending against harassment claims when they draft documentation so that a neutral third party, without any unique knowledge of the relevant circumstances or work environment, can understand why the Company reached its decision.
HR and Attorney’s view and analyze the harassment claims with different lenses. How this can be aligned?
Tyler Rasmussen: Employer must understand that in litigation their actions will be judged years after the actual harassment complaint is handled. This is often after memories have faded and witnesses have moved on to new jobs. The more contemporaneous details provided and documented, the better. Remember – it is not necessarily about who is right or wrong – it is about how the situation can be misconstrued. Thus, seeing the complaint through a third party’s (jury’s) eyes will help employers identify and remedy any potential deficiencies in their investigation process while it is ongoing.
Separating genuine vs bogus claims is a challenge. How can we ensure effective responses?
Tyler Rasmussen: While counterintuitive, employers who conduct a very detailed investigative process for every complaint received – regardless of their seemingly unbelievable nature – will actually cut down on bogus claims. If employees realize that every complaint will be methodically looked into, that they will be heavily questioned regarding their claims, and that relevant witnesses will be interviewed, they will be less likely to make unfounded allegations.
Why are you excited to present at the PIHRA 2020 Legal Update?
Tyler Rasmussen: Meeting with HR professionals and employers is the most important part of my practice. I endeavor to provide practical, real-life advice, that helps companies protect themselves from claims. I can only do this effectively if I understand what employers are seeing on a daily basis. I am most excited about engaging with the attendees to discuss the situations they are facing and provide quick suggestions to avoid any potentially liability from claims. Plus, I love any opportunity to share some litigation war stories.