About EliseBauernfeind

Journalism and politics student at Drake University | Market Research intern at PLUS

Warning: The Internet May be Hazardous to Employees!

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.

What’s Your Verdict? Potential Pitfalls in PL Defense (A Mock Trial)

Dax Watson will moderate a panel called “What’s your verdict? Potential Pitfalls in PL Defense (A Mock Trial)” at the 2017 PLUS Conference, November 1-3 in Atlanta. As the name suggests, this is an interactive panel, and audience members will act as the jury.

Watson is the managing partner at Lipson Neilson Cole Seltzer & Garin in Phoenix, Arizona, and said he primarily practices real estate professional liability defense work. He mainly represents real estate brokerage companies and professional liability companies.

When Watson began teaching continuing education classes for lawyers, he wanted to teach them in a way that would be fun and interactive for his audience. He feels that people learn more and absorb information better when they’re involved in their learning, and teaches most of his classes as mock trials.

This mock trial will be a malpractice case against an estate planning attorney. Members of the panel will be the actors in the trial, and the audience will break into jury pods and decide the case. The panel will then discuss the juries’ decisions and each jury will see how their verdict differed from the other juries’.

Watson hopes to bring a fun atmosphere to the panel through the use of over-the-top actors and jokes throughout the trial, but at the same time hopes the audience learns a lot during the panel and leaves with a lot of new and useful information.

“I think it would be really nice if they learned from this panel what it is to actually be in a trial,” Watson said. “What I think they’re going to learn is that the trial process is somewhat unpredictable…and what is stunning about it is how you can have four different juries and you can have four different results, and I think that’s what’s going to be very interesting for them to see.”

Watson believes this panel will be especially beneficial to underwriters and claims professionals, as well as anyone on the insurance side of the business, because they are likely less familiar with the trial process. He hopes they learn that because there are real people deciding the case and the verdict could go any way, that there is no surefire way to predict the outcome of a case- no matter how hard they might try.

Watson hopes to put a unique spin on both his panel and the mock trial by making it fun and interactive while still being informative, and hopes that people leave his panel having had fun.

“This is geared towards laughing, smiling, and learning. The jury trial itself will be fun, we will interject jokes, we will have over-the-top actors, but at the end of the day, you’re going to sit there, and you’re going to have to decide a case, and you’re going to be stunned as to how your fellow audience members saw the exact same jury trial and came up with a different opinion,” Watson said.

Don’t miss this great panel, as well as the many other educational and networking opportunities at the 2017 PLUS Conference… register now!