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1 day ago · by · 0 comments

California Expands Sexual Harassment Training Law

On Sept. 30, 2018, California enacted a series of laws that strengthen the state’s protections against workplace harassment. Effective Jan. 1, 2019, these new laws:

  • Require employers with five or more employees in the state to provide sexual harassment prevention training to all employees;
  • Expand and clarify employer liability for workplace harassment; and
  • Prohibit employers from entering certain agreements related to sexual harassment and other unlawful acts in the workplace.      

ACTION STEPS

All California employers should become familiar with the new laws. Those with five or more employees should review the new training requirements and monitor the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s (DFEH) website for training courses and additional guidance.

Background

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) broadly prohibits workplace harassment. All employers in the state are prohibited from harassing individuals or allowing harassment based on any of the protected traits listed below. Employees, applicants, unpaid interns, unpaid volunteers and anyone providing services under a contract in the workplace are all protected under the law.

FEHA Protected Traits
Race Disability/medical condition Sex
Color Genetic information Gender
Religion Marital status Gender identity
National origin Age (40 and older) Gender expression
Ancestry Military/veteran status Sexual orientation

Under the FEHA, any employer, regardless of size, may be held liable for sexual harassment committed in its workplace, even if the harasser is not an employee. The FEHA also requires employers with 50 or more employees in the state to provide sexual harassment prevention training to all supervisory employees every two years.

Overview of Changes Effective Jan. 1, 2019  

Effective Jan. 1, 2019, the FEHA is expanded as follows:  

  • The current requirements for supervisor training on sexual harassment are expanded to employers with five or more employees. These employers must also provide one hour of sexual harassment training to all nonsupervisory employees. 
  • Employers may be held liable for workplace harassment that is based on any protected trait (not just sexual harassment) committed by nonemployees in the workplace. The rules on what an employee must prove in a harassment claim have also been clarified.
  • Employers may not require an employee to sign any agreement that waives a claim or right for workplace discrimination or harassment, or that prevents disclosure of any information about unlawful acts in the workplace.

California law has also been changed to prohibit confidentiality requirements in sexual harassment claim settlements and sex discrimination claim settlements.

New Training Requirements

Effective Jan. 1, 2019, every California employer with five or more employees must provide:

  • Each supervisory employee with at least two hours of sexual harassment training; and
  • Each nonsupervisory employee with at least one hour of sexual harassment training.  

The appropriate training must be completed by each employee within six months of assuming his or her job. Each employee must receive the appropriate training once every two years. The deadline for initial compliance with these requirements is Jan. 1, 2020. Employers must provide the initial training after Jan. 1, 2019, in order to meet this deadline.   

As of Jan. 1, 2020, special requirements will apply for seasonal employees, temporary employees and any employees who are hired to work for less than six months. For these employees, employers must provide the required training within 30 calendar days after the employees’ hire dates or before the employees have worked 100 hours, whichever comes first.

The DFEH plans to develop two online training courses that employers may use to satisfy the training requirements. Employers should monitor the DFEH website for these courses and additional guidance.

Expanded Employer Liability for Workplace Harassment

The FEHA allows an employer to be held liable for acts of workplace sexual harassment committed by nonemployees under certain circumstances. Effective Jan. 1, 2019, employers may also be held liable for nonemployees’ acts of any type of unlawful workplace harassment. An employer may be held liable if: 

  • A nonemployee commits harassment against any of the employers’ employees, applicants, unpaid interns, unpaid volunteers or people providing services pursuant to a contract in the workplace;
  • The harassment is based on any FEHA-protected trait;
  • The employer (or its agents or supervisors) knows or should have known of the conduct; and
  • The employer fails to take immediate and appropriate corrective action.

Prohibited Waivers and Confidentiality Agreements

An employer may not require an employee to sign either of the following in exchange for a raise or bonus, or as a condition of employment or continued employment:

  • A release of a claim or right against the employer for employment practices that violate the FEHA; or
  • A non-disparagement agreement or other document that prevents the employee from disclosing information about unlawful or potentially unlawful acts in the workplace.

These rules apply to agreements executed on or after Jan. 1, 2019.

These rules do not apply to agreements to settle claims involving unlawful acts in the workplace that have been filed by an employee either in court, with an administrative agency, in an alternative dispute resolution forum or through an employer’s internal complaint process. However, there are new restrictions on settlement agreements involving claims of:

  • Workplace sexual harassment;
  • Employment discrimination based on sex; or
  • Retaliation related to claims of sex discrimination or sexual harassment in the workplace.  

Effective Jan. 1, 2019, these settlement agreements may not include any provision that prevents the disclosure of factual information related to the underlying claim. Settlement agreements executed on or after Jan. 1, 2019, that violate this prohibition are void and unenforceable. The bill also prohibits courts from issuing any order or stipulation that restricts this type of disclosure in sex discrimination or sexual harassment cases.

However, settlements for sex discrimination or sexual harassment may shield the claimant’s identity and all facts that could lead to the discovery of his or her identity (including pleadings filed in court), as long as the claimant is the one who requests it (and as long as no government agencies or public officials are parties to the settlement agreement). In addition, settlement provisions may prevent parties from disclosing the amount paid for a claim settlement.

  • The harassment is based on any FEHA-protected trait;
  • The employer (or its agents or supervisors) knows or should have known of the conduct; and
  • The employer fails to take immediate and appropriate corrective action.

Prohibited Waivers and Confidentiality Agreements

An employer may not require an employee to sign either of the following in exchange for a raise or bonus, or as a condition of employment or continued employment:

  • A release of a claim or right against the employer for employment practices that violate the FEHA; or
  • A non-disparagement agreement or other document that prevents the employee from disclosing information about unlawful or potentially unlawful acts in the workplace.

These rules apply to agreements executed on or after Jan. 1, 2019.

These rules do not apply to agreements to settle claims involving unlawful acts in the workplace that have been filed by an employee either in court, with an administrative agency, in an alternative dispute resolution forum or through an employer’s internal complaint process. However, there are new restrictions on settlement agreements involving claims of:

  • Workplace sexual harassment;
  • Employment discrimination based on sex; or
  • Retaliation related to claims of sex discrimination or sexual harassment in the workplace.  

Effective Jan. 1, 2019, these settlement agreements may not include any provision that prevents the disclosure of factual information related to the underlying claim. Settlement agreements executed on or after Jan. 1, 2019, that violate this prohibition are void and unenforceable. The bill also prohibits courts from issuing any order or stipulation that restricts this type of disclosure in sex discrimination or sexual harassment cases.

However, settlements for sex discrimination or sexual harassment may shield the claimant’s identity and all facts that could lead to the discovery of his or her identity (including pleadings filed in court), as long as the claimant is the one who requests it (and as long as no government agencies or public officials are parties to the settlement agreement). In addition, settlement provisions may prevent parties from disclosing the amount paid for a claim settlement.  

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6 days ago · by · 0 comments

What You Need To Know About The 2018 Construction Risk Conference

The International Risk Management Institute’s Construction Risk Conference (CRC), held from November 4-7, 2018, in Houston, Texas, is designed for construction professionals like you. If you decide to invest in your business and attend this conference, here’s what you need to know.

What is the CRC?

Held annually, the CRC brings together a variety of experts who share up-to-date information about construction industry risks, insurance trends, and strategies and tactics you can take to avoid risks. This year’s sessions include:

  • Kathy Antonello, Chief Actuary at the National Council on Compensation Insurance, will discuss “Workers Compensation Trends and Challenges in Construction.” You’ll learn about trends, challenges and ways to manage your Workers’ Compensation program.
  • The View from My Seat offers tools you can use to manage new technologies, labor shortages, law and regulation changes, and other evolving construction risks.
  • Jim “The Rookie” Morris shares his inspirational and motivational story.
  • Breakout Sessions and Snap Talks dive into topics like contracts, design liability, construction delays, and your supply chain.

Who Attends CRC?

The CRC is designed for a variety of people who work in the construction industry. It’s important for: 

  • General contractors.
  • Subcontractors.
  • Project owners and managers.
  • Developers.
  • Construction lawyers.
  • Insurance agents, brokers, underwriters, and adjusters.
  • Consultants and service providers.

Why should you Attend CRC?

Consider attending the CRC to gain five benefits.

  • Gain knowledge about emerging risks, trends and solutions. As you understand new threats in your industry and to your business, you’ll also learn how to manage these challenges in ways that protect your company.
  • Position yourself as an expert. Attending a conference will enhance your knowledge and understanding. Use the information you gain to improve your business offerings and reputation as an expert.
  • Expand your network. Meet and collaborate with other construction professionals as you strengthen valuable relationships and share advice and support.
  • Identify your insurance needs. After learning more about your risks, you can identify and purchase the right insurance coverage for your business.
  • Rejuvenate your mind and body. While you’ll listen to experts and network with peers, you also have time to rest and relax, which allows you to return to work mentally and physically refreshed.

How do you Register?

Registration is open until November 7. However, you can take advantage of the Standard rate and save $400 when you register before October 12. Save even more with the discounted rate that’s available to project owners and contractors. Also, remember the IRMI Conference Guarantee. You can request a registration fee refund if you don’t get your money’s worth from the CRC.

Invest in yourself and your construction business when you attend the 2018 IRMI Construction Risk Conference. It’s good for business.

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1 week ago · by · 0 comments

How To Stay Safe When You Use Public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi allows your team to stay connected on the go. You have to be careful, though, because public Wi-Fi is notoriously unsecure. Cybercriminals could also log into the free network you use and access data on your devices, such as your login information or confidential client files. Exercise caution and stay safe in several ways as you use your laptop, tablet or smartphone on public Wi-Fi networks.

Verify the Network Name

Before logging in, research the network. Only log into Wi-Fi that originates from a legitimate source as you avoid a man-in-the-middle attack. For example, cybercriminals may name their network “Free Wi-Fi” or mimic the establishment’s name as a way to attract users. Ask the barista, librarian or other staff member to verify the name of their public Wi-Fi network before you log in.

Turn off File Sharing

Your team relies on file sharing, but this feature is lucrative for cybercriminals, too. That’s why you want to turn off file sharing when you use public Wi-Fi. This step protects your files and data you don’t want criminals to access.

Use a VPN

A virtual private network (VPN) encrypts data as it travels between your device and the server. Research free and paid VPN options, then add one to your devices for protection when you need it on the go. 

Check for HTTPS

If you see a lock symbol and HTTPS in front of the website address in the status bar, you’re browsing a secure site. You can also use an HTTPS extension for extra protection.

Enable Two-Factor Authentication

With two-factor authentication, you add an extra layer of protection to your online browsing. Even if cybercriminals gain access to your password, they probably cannot get into your account since they need to enter a unique authentication code also.

Update Software

Browser and software patches can improve security. Make it a habit to install these patches when you’re connected to a trusted network. Never update software when you’re connected to public Wi-Fi.

Forget the Network

After your public Wi-Fi session ends, log off all the websites you were signed into and tell your device to forget the network. This step prevents cybercriminals from connecting to your device automatically the next time you’re in the network area. 

Limit your Activity

It’s tempting to think that cybercrime couldn’t happen to you or that you can afford to be careless because you have cybercrime and business liability insurance. However, always use caution. Save sensitive or confidential work for when you’re on a trusted network.

Your company may utilize public Wi-Fi often to stay connected and get work done. Encourage your employees to use caution and follow these steps as they stay safe.

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2 weeks ago · by · 0 comments

Facebook Security Breach Affects Nearly 50 Million Accounts

On Sept. 28, 2018, Facebook announced that nearly 50 million user accounts were compromised in a data breach. The breach, which can be traced back to July 2017, is one of the largest in the company’s 14-year history.

While investigations are ongoing, the company said hackers exploited a software vulnerability in Facebook’s "View As" feature to steal access tokens and gain control of user accounts. Access tokens are effectively digital keys to specific accounts, and stealing them allows attackers to view private posts or compose status updates without the knowledge of the affected user.

In addition, the attack allowed the hackers to see anything that users can see on their own profile, including the names and birth dates of friends and family members. Such information could be used in future phishing attacks.

In response to the attack, Facebook reset 90 million logins automatically, fixed the software vulnerability and informed law enforcement officials. While the company says that users do not need to change their passwords, individuals experiencing login issues should navigate to Facebook’s Help Center.

As a safety precaution, users are encouraged to log in and out of all of their accounts on every device. Users can see all of the devices they’re currently signed into here.

To learn more about the breach, read Facebook’s official blog post.

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2 weeks ago · by · 0 comments

In the Wake of the Deadliest Flu Season in Recent History, CDC Urges Public to Take Action

Over 700,000 people were estimated to have been admitted to the hospital during the 2017-18 flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Influenza Hospitalization Surveillance Network. What’s even more alarming is the fact that epidemic levels of influenza or pneumonia persisted for 16 consecutive weeks. Using the CDC’s new methodology, the 2017-18 flu season was the first flu season to be classified as high severity across all age groups.

Due to last year’s deadly consequences and prevalence, the CDC is urging everyone to take extra precautions for the upcoming flu season, including getting vaccinated against the flu by the end of October.

When is flu season?

Flu season typically runs from October to May. However, most flu cases occur between December and February. The vast majority of those who were hospitalized for the seasonal influenza last season weren’t vaccinated. That’s why the CDC is strongly recommending that you get vaccinated as early as possible.

What vaccinations are available?

Each year, the Food and Drug Administration works with the World Health Organization to create a vaccination that contains three or four different strains of the flu. Most of the shots available this year provide protection against four different flu strains. For the 2018-19 season, the nasal vaccination, FluMist, will be available again after not being recommended for use for the previous two flu seasons.

Who should get vaccinated?

The CDC recommends that everyone older than 6 months should get the flu vaccine.

Where can you get vaccinated?

You can get vaccinated against the flu at your doctor’s office, in a clinic or pharmacy, and sometimes, at your employer. Some urgent care clinics or local health departments will provide flu vaccines as well. Visit the HealthMap Vaccine Finder to locate where you can get a flu vaccine.

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3 weeks ago · by · 0 comments

The Dangers of Job Site Cellphone Use

According to a recent study, the average person checks their cellphone 100 times a day. While there is a time and a place for cellphones, using it at the job site can be extremely dangerous.

If you’re distracted for just a second while operating a power tool, working on a roof or driving a forklift, you can injure yourself or a co-worker. You can also face civil or criminal liability for damages you cause by operating a motorized vehicle while using a cellphone.

It isn’t only operators of machinery who need to be mindful of the dangers of cellphone use on the job site. Simply looking down at your cellphone and not paying attention to your surroundings could put your life in danger.

Cellphone Safety Tips When On-site

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) prohibits cellphone use by operators of cranes and similar equipment. Most organizations prohibit any kind of cellphone use on the job site—not just for crane operators. It is your responsibility to know how your company’s rules apply to you and follow them accordingly.

If you struggle with the temptation to check your phone while working on a job site, consider the following safety tips:

  • Get in the habit of sending and receiving text messages before or after your shift, or during one of your breaks.
  • Remind family and friends that you may not be able to respond to their messages right away. Provide them with your workplace contact information in case of emergencies.
  • Turn off push notifications so you’re not distracted by any apps.
  • Don’t carry your cellphone on you if the temptation to check it is too much. Instead, leave it in a safe place where it won’t distract you from your job.
  • Follow your workplace policy for cellphone use at work and on the job site. Be aware of any cellphone-free zones.

Besides creating enormous safety risks, employees who are texting at work are not doing what they are getting paid to do. For this reason, these workers may be subject to disciplinary action.

If you have questions about ’s workplace cellphone policy, or if you notice inappropriate cellphone use on the job site, don’t hesitate to discuss it with your supervisor or HR.

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Company information

Scurich Insurance Services
Phone: (831) 661-5697
Fax: (831) 661-5741

Physical:
783 Rio Del Mar Blvd., Suite7,
Aptos, Ca 95003-4700

Mailing:
PO Box 1170
Watsonville, CA 95077-1170

Contact details

E-mail address:
Info@ScurichInsurance.com

(831) 661-5697

Available 8:30am - 5:00pm