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Dealing With Cannabis Industry Discrimination

It today’s society it is common to hear about discrimination in the work place. Discrimination comes in many different forms and impacts many different groups of people. Discrimination can come in the form of race, age, sexual discrimination, people with disabilities, and other forms. Cannabis industry discrimination is a concern for cannabis business owners as much as traditional business owners. While the novelty of the cannabis industry has protected it from long standing institutional practices of discrimination that keep industries such as the entertainment industry in the news, no industry is immune to issues of discrimination.

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Employees are entitled to effective workplace policies by which claims of harassment or discrimination may be properly addressed and resolved. To create a workplace environment free from harassment, discrimination and bias, employers should adopt a zero-tolerance policy against it. The 2017 Diversity in Cannabis Survey conducted by Frontier Data and Women Grow, shows that discrimination in the cannabis industry is a common issue that employees and employers are facing in real time.

When survey results are filtered to show only responses from minorities, the view that racial discrimination is a moderate or major industry issue rises from 45% to 65%, reflecting the fact that those who don’t belong to minority racial groups may be less familiar with the discrimination minorities experience in the sector and therefore are less likely to perceive it as a major issue.

Sexual harassment is a widespread issue in the industry, with nearly half (45%) reporting they’ve either witnessed it (27%) or have experienced it themselves (18%). An additional one-third reported that they knew someone who’d been sexually harassed in the industry.

When filtered to include responses only from women working in non-ownership or management positions (those working as lower-level staff and interns), the percentage of sexual harassment jumps to 30% and the percentage knowing someone who has experienced sexual harassment jumps to 49%.

While a zero tolerance policy regarding discrimination in the cannabis industry, or your specific business, is important, business owners should invest in additional layers of protection. Employer’s protection liability insurance protects the cannabis business owner from discrimination claims including age, race, disability, sexual discrimination, wrongful termination or some other type of discrimination. A claim for discrimination could include requests for information on company policy and work environment, requests for records, depositions, testifying in court, providing back pay, damage awards, fines, and legal fees. Even if an employee is unsuccessful with their claim, the process can be time consuming and costly to defend. An employer’s protection liability protects an employer when faced with these claims.

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While no policy can insure against time lost or other collateral damage caused by a discrimination claim, the right policy can reduce the damage by covering the financial loss if such a claim is filed. A business owner should always work closely with an experienced insurance agent when determining the right risk management strategy for their business. No matter what risk management strategy you choose, coverage limits will apply. Business owners should always read their policy with their agent and their attorney to ensure they know what is and is not covered in their specific policy.