Franchises Need To Protect Themselves From Increased Sexual Harassment And Cyber Security Claims

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Our friend and franchise expert Ed Teixeira interviews Peter R. Taffae, MLIS, CFE and Managing Director Executive Perils, Inc. on the topic of Cyber Security Claims and Sexual Harassment claim that all employers need to protect themselves against.This important topic has faded from the mainstream ews media but remains a real problem that employers need to focus on…

Franchises Need To Protect Themselves From Increased Sexual Harassment And Cyber Security Claims

By Ed Teixeira – Chief Operating Officer of Franchise Grade

After hitting a two-decade low in 2017, sexual harassment complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission increased by more than 12 percent from last year. The federal agency has also been aggressive with litigation this year, filing 41 sexual harassment lawsuits so far, up from 33 in 2017. At the same time, cyber-crimes which involve the theft of personal information has cost some companies millions of dollars in damages to its reputation and from monetary claims.

Employer Liability Claims Increase

Over the course of this year, stories of sexual harassment have dominated the headlines. In what USA Today dubbed the “Weinstein Effect,” various sized companies have witnessed employees take part in the #Me To movement. This increased focus on sexual harassment has created a surge in protests, discrimination lawsuits, and government investigations, with almost no industry being immune, including a recent demonstration against McDonald’s franchise locations. Regardless of whether a sexual harassment allegation has merit, these claims can cause a company significant damage to its brand and sales. Seven in 10 human resource professionals said they believe sexual harassment complaints at their workplaces will likely be “higher” or “much higher” in 2018 compared to previous years.

A poll by the Human Resource Certification Institute found that “63 percent of HR professionals said that acts of sexual harassment “occasionally” or “sometimes” occur in their workplaces and 30 percent said that such acts “frequently” occur. Only seven percent said that such acts “almost never” or “never” occur.” The trend toward more sexual harassment lawsuits appears to continue as the EEOC increases efforts to crack down on sexual harassment. The EEOC has launched online access for employees to file harassment charges from their homes, with the EEOC.

Employment-related risks can represent the most damaging exposure to a franchiser. Claims involving sexual harassment, wrongful termination or discrimination, from a current or former employee can potentially cause irreparable damage to a franchise brand and reputation resulting in significant financial cost.

To gain more insight into employer liability and especially sexual harassment claims I spoke with Peter R. Taffae, MLIS, CFE and Managing Director Executive Perils, Inc. In 2014 they introduced a management liability policy, FranchisorSuite®, designed for the unique needs of Franchisors.

Q. How extensive are employer liability claims?

A. Companies of all sizes and industries have been affected by a surge in employment-related litigation and rising legal damage awards.

Q. What can be done to mitigate those risks?

A. Be sure that franchisers, franchisees and their employees are properly trained to understand the risks of sexual harassment, unlawful terminations, and discrimination claims. Have the proper procedures and protocols in place and have financial protection.

Q.What does the future hold for sexual harassment claims?

A. The threshold has been raised for what is appropriate in the workplace. This means that the expectation for proper employment practices is higher. Some experts believe that it will take 10 to 15 years to reverse the trend as current middle age retirees are replaced by today’s younger generation.

Q. Any other threats that franchises face?

A. One area related to the franchise industry that doesn’t receive a lot of coverage is cybersecurity. Every state has primary notification laws, which that when there is a breach of a customer’s personal data, the company or franchiser must notify every customer. In addition, there is no statute of limitations regarding these crimes. For example, if I purchased a meal at a franchise location 10 years ago and their system was hacked, and my personal information was stolen, that franchise is liable.

Franchise restaurants process so many credit cards and have the extensive point-of-sale equipment, that they are vulnerable to data theft. Websites, Wi-Fi and digital kiosks represent additional threats. Any franchise which does any of the following is at risk for a cyber-attack; Accepts credit cards, handles or views private information of employees or customers electronically, has Wi-Fi or conducts a portion of their business online.

It’s important that each component of the franchise industry be prepared to protect themselves from the threat of employer liability and cybersecurity claims.
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About the Author:
Ed Teixeira is Chief Operating Officer of Franchise Grade and was the founder and President of FranchiseKnowHow, L.L.C. a franchise consulting firm. Ed has over 35 years’ experience as a Senior Executive for franchisors in the retail, healthcare, manufacturing and software industries and was also a franchisee. Ed has consulted clients to franchise their existing business and those seeking strategic solutions to operational, marketing and franchise relations issues. He has transacted international licensing in Europe, Asia, and South America. Ed is the author of Franchising from the Inside Out and The Franchise Buyers Manual and has spoken at a number of venues including the International Franchise Expo and the Chinese Franchise Association in Shanghai, China. He has conducted seminars, written numerous articles on the subject of franchising and has been interviewed on TV and radio and has testified as an expert witness on franchising. He is a franchise valuation expert by the Business Brokerage Press. Ed can be contacted at [email protected]

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PRESS RELEASE – Franchise Growth Solutions Exhibits Innovative Franchise Brands.

COME OUT TO THE INTERNATIONAL FRANCHISE SHOW…Franchise Growth Solutions Expands Internationally as Exhibitor and Speaker at The International Franchise Expo May 30 to June 01, 2019 at New York’s Javits Center

“We’ll be showcasing some of the most innovative and exciting franchise brands of the year.” Gary Occhiogrosso – Founder, Franchise Growth Solutions, LLC.
NEW YORK MAY 27, 2019

Franchise Growth Solutions LLC, the New York-based strategic planning, franchise development and sales organization, headed by franchise industry expert, Gary Occhiogrosso, will exhibit at the International Franchise Expo, May 30 – June 01, 2019, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City.

Mr. Occhiogrosso, a 30-year veteran of single and multi-unit franchise development and sales, was instrumental in the launch and growth of nationally recognized franchises including Ranch *1, Desert Moon Fresh Mexican Grille, and brands found under the 100+ unit multi-brand franchisor, TRUFOODS, LLC.

From booth #646, Franchise Growth Solutions will showcase some of 2019’s hottest franchise opportunities: Acai Express®, Riko’s® Thin Crust Pizza, Balloon Kings®, and MATTO Espresso® to an estimated 20,000 entrepreneurs and future business owners. Occhiogrosso revealed, “We’ll be showcasing some of the most innovative and exciting franchise brands of the year.”
With additional credentials as an in demand public speaker on franchise success, and as an adjunct instructor at NYU, and Contributor to Forbes.

Occhiogrosso will also moderate two panel discussions entitled. At the first discussion “ Private Equity and Franchising” scheduled for Thursday May 30th at 10am, Occhiogrosso will host a discussion between franchisors and private equity investment professionals on how to find capital, the best ways to position franchises for growth/investment, and a checklist of what is required for strategic partnership in the eyes of the investment community. “This is my favorite venue to present this panel, we bring together Emerging Brands and Private Equity Investors to discuss ways to capitalize on the fired-up equity markets in Franchising,” added Occhiogrosso. The second event titled “Using Your Digital to Sell Franchises” is scheduled for Thursday May 30th at 4pm and will cover how Franchisors can maximize their franchise solicitation by tapping into the vast array of tools now available in the digital world. Occhiogrosso said “This panel will feature experts in the Internet marketing industry who will share tips and best practices designed to create accelerated lead generation for their franchise sales effort.” The events are free as part of the attendance fee for the Franchise Expo.

The International Franchise Expo in New York City is the largest franchise show of its kind in the country. The three-day show traditionally attracts over 20,000 attendees and over 400 national and international franchise opportunities.
ABOUT FRANCHISE GROWTH SOLUTIONS, LLC

Franchise Growth Solutions, LLC is a strategic planning, franchise development and sales organization offering franchise sales, digital advertising, brand development, strategic planning, real estate selection, architectural development, vendor management, lead generation, and PR including social media. Franchise Growth Solutions’ proven “Coach, Mentor & Grow®” system puts both franchisors and potential franchisees on the fast track to growth. Membership in Franchise Growth Solutions’ client portfolio is by recommendation only.

For information on Franchise Growth Solutions or any of its franchise opportunities, please contact Gary Occhiogrosso at (917) 991-2465 OR email at [email protected]

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