When #MeToo Comes to the Nonprofit Workplace

November 22, 2017 by Ellen Aldridge

It’s hard to ignore the plethora of revelations of sexual harassment incidents involving well-known public figures being revealed in the news recently.

It’s also difficult to ignore the grassroots social movement that resulted – the #MeToo campaign, originally started by consultant, blogger and advocate Tarana Burke over 10 years ago, and recently popularized with a tweet by actress Alyssa Milano that garnered more than 35,000 direct responses on its first day. From there, the hashtag quickly spread across multiple social media platforms and grew immensely in participation, with individuals all over the world chiming in to share their stories of harassment and assault, or simply posting #MeToo. To say the trend is viral is an understatement – people are speaking up, and they’re doing so publicly.

What you may not know is that the number of harassment complaints nonprofits have been receiving has increased as well. These complaints run the gamut from anonymous emails reporting decades old alleged transgressions to the reporting of current serious ongoing harassment of current employees by their supervisors. Sexual harassment is a serious issue and it is incumbent upon every nonprofit to do what it can to minimize the risk of these types of incidents from occurring.

At the Nonprofit Insurance Alliance Group, we have many free tools to assist our members in addressing these risks. The following resources are available to our nonprofit members when faced either with a current complaint of sexual harassment in the workplace, or to educate your workforce in mitigating the potential risk of sexual harassment becoming an issue.

  • Free recorded webinar on Preventing Sexual Harassment and Abuse Conduct in the Workplace, which can be accessed
  • Free recorded webinar on Conducting Internal Investigations, which can be accessed
  • Members with a current Directors and Officers policy (which includes Employment Practices Liability) can take advantage of free unlimited Employment Consultations. Employment Risk Managers can assist members in understanding best practices for establishing a harassment free workplace, including sample policies and recommended training; the processing of a complaint of harassment, including internal or external investigation and assessing risk; and possible steps to remedy the situation. Information on how to request a consultation can be found here.
  • Free Sexual Harassment Prevention Training for Supervisors, available for nonprofit members in Connecticut and California where such training is legally mandated. Additional information can be found here.
  • Training brochures for nonprofit staff working with youth, entitled “Supervision of Children and Teens Never Includes Sex,” which is available

In addition to these resources, you should confirm with your nonprofit’s insurance broker that you have sufficient Employment Practices Liability (EPLI) insurance coverage under a Directors & Officers (D&O) insurance policy, and/or Improper Sexual Conduct (ISC) coverage, if you are exposed to risk in this area.

Making these tools available should help create a healthy and respective environment at your nonprofit, minimize the likelihood of a #MeToo incident from occurring, and assist you in responding if such an incident does occur.

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Tags: Risk Management

Ellen Aldridge

About the Author

Ellen Aldridge is an Labor and Employment Risk Manager for Nonprofits Insurance Alliance, where she counsels nonprofits on the management of employment risks by helping them understand employment law mandates and best practices to motivate and manage employees. Ellen has been practicing labor and employment law for 30 years and before joining the Alliance, worked both in the public and private sector as a civil litigator and in-house counsel. When she isn’t hard at work, Ellen enjoys tennis and community action. Ellen holds a B.A. in Government from the University of San Francisco and a J.D. from Santa Clara University and is a member of the California Bar. She currently resides in the Monterey Bay Area with her husband and two children.

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