Claudia Costa’s panel at the 2017 PLUS Conference, titled “Warning: The Internet May be Hazardous to Employees!” will discuss cyber-bullying and threats in the workplace, and how employers can address the issue.
Costa routinely advises companies and works with them in EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) compliance training, anti-harassment training and bullying training. She hopes the panel will give attendees a better understanding of how employers should deal with cyber-bullying and threats in the workplace, and any claims that may arise as a result.
“I think we have a fantastic panel, because we have Laura Lapidus from CNA speaking, who’s in risk management, and then we have Lisa Brennan and Jennifer Weinstein. Both of them are senior claims persons who deal on a day-to-day basis with claims from employers,” Costa said.
A study by Northeastern University in 2012 showed that 80% of people had experienced bullying at work. A similar study done in 2014 by Vitalsmarts, and published in a Forbes article showed that number had increased to 96% of people.
Costa said the increase in cyber bullying may be because employees feel safe hiding behind the anonymity of the internet, and don’t think about the repercussions of their actions.
Employers attempting to handle and prevent cyber-bullying may find themselves confused on what, exactly, they should do. There are lots of laws and government regulations regarding keeping the workplace safe, the rights of employees to use social media, and what internet use employers can or cannot regulate, but they can be difficult to understand.
Costa believes the best way for employers to protect themselves is by having clear policies on internet use in the workplace. Without such policies, employers are more vulnerable to legal action. Employers should also be clear about their internet monitoring policy to avoid discrimination claims.
Costa believes a good way to avoid discrimination claims is to have a policy saying that the company will monitor the social media activity of anyone with an open- meaning available for the public to see- social media account.
Costa said the panel will be the most beneficial for underwriters and claims personnel.
“I believe underwriters will benefit a great deal when they’re looking at some companies that they’re going to underwrite to see what it is they are doing to take steps to prevent cyber-bullying or threats…claims personnel will also benefit from this because it explores different areas such as OSHA…the ADA, the NLRA, the Stored Communications Act, and background check laws,” Costa said
Costa said the panel is important to have at the PLUS conference because it’s a widespread issue that can have serious repercussions if not dealt with correctly. She says the panel will be a good chance for everyone- regardless of what market they’re in- to stop and take notice of how cyber-bullying in the workplace can affect employees.
“I think that it’s timely, and I think as the law grows in this area, and more and more people start bringing claims…employers are going to have to realize that they’re going to have to develop policies and ways to try to keep everyone safe at work,” Costa said.
Claim your seat at the industry event of the year, the 30th PLUS Conference, November 1-3 in Atlanta, Georgia.