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Insights

December 18, 2017

Tips and Trends: Minimizing Potential Sexual Harassment Exposure

By William H. Foster, Nicole Cuadrado

ACC South Carolina Chapter

Reprinted with permission from the ACC South Carolina Chapter

The recent torrent of sexual harassment allegations have impacted every conceivable industry in today’s business world.  These events have left many wondering what could possibly happen next and, perhaps more importantly, what can or should be done to minimize our own clients’ potential exposure?  Now is the time to be proactive to minimize exposure to the company, it is time to audit anti-harassment policies, issue refresher training courses and evaluate the impact of recently proposed legislation on past settlements and future settlement agreements.  Global, national and regional companies need to recognize that this threat and the magnitude of potential exposure makes it all the more important to avoid the negative publicity that these high profile sexual harassment scandals, claims and potential cases entail. 

As 2017 comes to a close, no one could have guessed that there would be an avalanche of extremely high profile sexual harassment allegations and assault cases that would culminate in the take down of dozens of powerful male figures with unprecedented speed.  The swift high-profile terminations come at a time where the tone and tenor of coverage on every media outlet seems to unify the public voice against the perpetrators and ensures the prevalence of sexual harassment doesn’t simply “go away quietly.”  Due to the 24/7 media coverage, victims are encouraged to speak out in order to bring social change.  For example, the first October 15, 2017, “#MeToo” post denouncing sexual harassment and assault culminated into over 1.7 million tweets, 12 million Facebook posts and over 45% of Facebook users reporting their relationship or affiliation to someone who has been a victim of sexual harassment and/or assault.  This campaign touched 85 countries around the world.