Why Do I Feel Held Hostage By Potential Employment Claims?

Apr 5, 2017


Director of Operations/Senior Consultant

I work with clients, daily on escalated employee complaints and concerns. Business owner, operator, manager, you are not alone! Every, single, day I work with clients on navigating employment claims from employees who feel discomfort with the nature of their employment from a hostile, discriminatory or retaliatory space. This also includes oppressive language, bullying and other forms of harassment.

Right or wrong, perception or reality, performance issues or top performer, the one thing that does not discriminate, is if you have employees, you are vulnerable to claims from employees.

I recently worked alongside a client with an employee who claimed that they had been the victim of sexual harassment, to which the client maintains was not the case…even the investigation showed signs that actual ‘legal’ sexual harassment had not taken place, but there were some blurred lines. However, the client also chose this opportunity to discuss that this particular employee had several performance issues, from lateness and unexcused absences and insubordination, to employees who actually complained that she was a bully. My client asked if we could terminate her.

I had to explain to my client that this employee with all of the performance issues was now protected from termination…

Unfortunately, I couldn’t provide the answer they were hoping, and to top it off actually had to explain that this employee with all the performance issues and the risk that others might file complaints against her…was now protected from termination. I asked the question, “Have you been documenting and discussing her performance issues?” “Well, not really,” answered the client. While I suggested we begin this performance management process, we now need to ensure this heightened performance management toward this one employee does not appear retaliatory, AND that we put weight on this process with ALL employees to ensure equal treatment.

I always feel the worst for the business owner who is getting sued because they just didn’t know what they didn’t know, yet.

There are also many, many real cases of harassment, discrimination, bullying and hostile work environments where employees are subjected to unwanted and unwarranted treatment. I always feel the worst for the client who simply doesn’t know what they don’t know, yet. Again, I cannot stress enough solid and professional Anti-Harassment and Discrimination training for all employees, managers and owners to mitigate the reality that sometimes, owners and managers have actually perpetuated situations with the best of intentions of taking care of their employees. This scenario will bring an employer to their knees wondering and questioning how this could have happened to their employee and in their company.

When your insurance broker recommends EPLI insurance….do it.

I cannot stress enough the importance of employees, managers and owners understanding what constitutes legal harassment and discrimination vs. really bad behavior….and implementing accountable performance management into their company. Without great training and understanding and without performance documentation, it’s no wonder an owner feels held for ransom, when a poor performing employee is now suing them for an unfounded claim….and, yes, getting thousands of dollars in settlement, and there are plenty of opportunities in litigation to throw all the ‘spaghetti noodles’ on the wall and see which ones stick. Meaning, one claim often turns into many when suits are filed. When your insurance broker suggests EPLI coverage, do it.

Anti-Harassment and Discrimination Training

Harassment and Discrimination in the workplace is one of the most common yet misunderstood violations of company policy, law and employee rights—it can also be one of the most expensive legal complications an employer incurs.

It is important for employers and employees to understand the company’s policies and procedures for preventing various forms of harassment/discrimination. First, they must understand the differences between legal harassment/discrimination and “bad behavior”. Then, they must have clear and safe channels for reporting either. In both instances, corrective action and discipline may be necessary, and reducing the liability and legal implications is imperative.

Many times, in many industries, owners and their employees and vendors don’t even know that they are the victim of or even the person doing the harassment until it’s too late. One of the greatest opportunities employees take away from our workshop is a better understanding of the difference between company “norms” and that some of these can actually get us in trouble—it just takes one complaint for a company to be liable for thousands of dollars!

Anti-Harassment and Discrimination Training Will:

  • Identify what is considered to be sexual harassment and to become more sensitive and more aware of how it impacts individuals and the company;
  • Understand the employee’s role in reporting and the company’s role in investigating and documenting sexual and other forms of harassment/discrimination claims;
  • Continue to be a positive workplace that is free from sexual or other forms of harassment/discrimination.
  • Provide knowledge of the various kinds of legally defined harassment/discrimination, protected classes and the differences between a hostile work environment and bullying;
  • Provide real-life examples and scenarios as case studies to better understand harassment/discrimination specifics.


Cindy Fetty, Senior Consultant for HR Annie Consulting, will conduct the training in compliance with EEOC criteria and tailor specifics to employees, managers and owners.

Employee Anti-Harassment and Discrimination Training: 1 hour, $350

Manager Anti-Harassment and Discrimination Training: 2 hours, $750




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