From the moment that you start the pre-hiring process until the exit interview, you are vulnerable to an employment-related lawsuit. As a result, your business should take a hard look at whether it can afford to defend itself against alleged wrongful employment practices accusations. If not, there is an insurance solution called employment practices liability that protects against wrongful termination, discrimination or sexual harassment suits from your current, prospective or former employees. This coverage applies to directors, officers and employees, and can sometimes extend to third party liabilities.
Why Choose Employment Practices Liability Insurance?
According to researchers, three out of five employers will be sued by a prospective, current or former employee while they are in business. While many suits are groundless, defending against them is costly and time-consuming.
Employment practices liability policies provide protection from the following wrongful employment practices:
- Actual or alleged wrongful dismissal, discharge or termination
- Employment-related misrepresentation
- Employment-related libel, slander, humiliation, defamation or invasion of privacy
- Wrongful failure to employ or promote
- Wrongful deprivation of a career opportunity, wrongful demotion or negligent evaluation
- Wrongful discipline
- Vicarious liability for intentional acts
- Punitive damages
- Coercion or humiliation in relation to race, marital status, gender, age, physical and/or mental impairments, pregnancy, sexual orientation, and any other protected class established by federal, state and local statutes
Many policies offer the following inclusions and add-ons:
- Consultation, HR assistance and other risk management consultative services.
- Coverage for defense costs outside the policy limits
- Third-party liability coverage
- Wage and hour coverage for claims alleging wage and hour violations
- Volunteer workers can be added as additional insureds
- Extended reporting periods may be added.
Employment Practices Liability Insurance: Crucial for Small Businesses
According to a recent study, more than half of all claims filed for employment-related liabilities are against employers with fewer than 50 employees. Alarmingly, the study also reveals that not even 2 percent of small businesses have employment practices liability (EPL) coverage.
High Price Tag
Employment-related claims can be extremely costly, especially in cases that drag on for years. With a slow economy and increasing adoption of worker-friendly laws, these cases are on the rise—in fact, discrimination claims have increased significantly in the last 20 years. According to data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), most claims are based on race, sex, age and disability. Many small businesses cannot afford to pay these costs and keep their company afloat.
What Puts Small Businesses at Risk?
Understandably, it can be much more difficult for small businesses to defend themselves against employment-related claims because they tend to have fewer resources and a different work environment. Small businesses are particularly at risk for employment-related claims for the following reasons:
- Many have a minimal staff and lack of in-house counsel and/or full human resources department to rely on
- Overall lack of extensive recordkeeping on employee performance
- More intimate working environments may cause personal riffs during layoffs
An Affordable Solution
Fortunately, with employment-based lawsuits on the rise and the economy’s sluggish upward climb, EPL coverage is becoming more affordable. More insurers are beginning to offer EPL insurance policies with comprehensive coverage to smaller businesses to protect them in tough times. In fact, EPL insurance is becoming so important to the success of small businesses that it is being offered at more affordable prices and being tailored specifically for those smaller companies. With the average cost of an employment lawsuit exceeding $270,000, the potential return dwarfs the initial cost of EPL coverage.
Talk to Marshall & Sterling representative to learn if this risk transfer option is right for your business.