Brokers Call For Vigilance To Help Law Firms Protect Against Harassment Incidents and Claims
As allegations against Hollywood’s Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Westminster MPs continue to hit the headlines – putting sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour in the limelight – the legal profession needs to ensure its own house is in order and firms are suitably protected says QPI Legal…
As the festive party season gets underway celebrating law firms are being urged to know their limits to help protect staff and their liabilities as an employer.
As allegations against Hollywood’s Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Westminster MPs continue to hit the headlines – putting sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour in the limelight – all professions need to ensure their own houses are in order and firms are suitably protected.
Publicity surrounding the recent high profile cases shines a spotlight on the need for all professions, including law firms, to recognise risks and plan appropriately to reduce any potential exposure.
QPI’s call for caution comes as Law Society leaders, including president Joe Egan, vice president Christina Blacklaws and deputy vice president Simon Davis, issued a joint statement outlining how everyone has a duty to help end harassment of any kind.
What the Law Society has to say
Their statement said: “Sexual harassment is illegal. Just as anyone is protected by the law, they should also be protected by employers – law firms included – which have a duty of care to their employees, contractors, clients and visitors.
“Solicitors have professional and ethical obligations that mean anyone found guilty of harassment is likely to face disciplinary action by the regulator as well as any civil or criminal proceedings.
“Working environments should be safe for all, with clear policies to prevent harassment as well as accessible, safe procedures to deal with any complaints…. It is incumbent on all of us to work to end harassment of all kinds.”
We advise law firms should be conducting a review of their Management Liability policies (MLP).
Be warned businesses, including law firms, who think they have an appropriate ‘policy’ in place often wrongly assume they are adequately covered.
Protect yourself against unwanted attention
We advise that whilst there’s no need to put paid to the season’s festivities, employers could take a number of precautions to ensure staff stay safe while protecting themselves against unwanted attention and expensive reputation ruining lawsuits.
Know your responsibilities
Firms should ensure they have clear procedures in place for dealing with sexual harassment or they could face claims of constructive or unfair dismissal from the alleged harasser or the person being harassed. The SRA may also get involved from a regulatory perspective.
A policy which clearly outlines examples of unacceptable behaviour to all employees should be established to help mitigate any inappropriate actions.
A policy of processes should be implemented that allows complaints to be dealt with swiftly so staff know sexual harassment, or harassment of any kind, will not be tolerated and what they and their employer can do if incidents arise.
The global publicity surrounding the latest high profile incidents highlight that practices need to fully understand the risks and seek appropriate advice.
Employment Practice incidents, regulatory investigation costs and general management cover is afforded under a Management Liability policy. We advise firms to talk to experienced professionals who understand Management Liability risks and can ensure they’re suitably covered.
A policy will entitle you to expert legal representation in the event of an investigation or claim made against you, cover your legal costs including representation at official employment investigations, and any awards or settlements.
Don’t leave it to chance.
We help firms analyse risk, audit against current policy cover and identify what’s right and any areas for improvement before a problem arises.
Complex risks need intelligent solutions… this is what QPI specialise in.