What is Employment Practices Liability Insurance?

Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) typically covers allegations of discrimination, wrongful termination and sexual harassment of employees. Discrimination claims include, but are not limited to: age, disability, gender, handicap, marital status, national origin, pregnancy, race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. Most EPLI policies have the option to protect companies against past, current and prospective employees.

Employment Practices Liability Insurance coverage is not generally included in your standard business policy. Sometimes this coverage can be purchased as an endorsement to your Business Owners Policy. If you are looking for greater limits, this coverage can also be purchased separately. To protect your company against claims of this nature, it is advised that you purchase EPLI coverage in addition to your standard business policy. EPLI coverage purchased separately from your Business Owners Policy often provides additional benefits such as access to legal counsel and/or a human resources advisor that can assist with claims of this nature. In fact, some businesses purchase EPLI coverage, strictly to have access to these resources.

The premium for a business’s EPLI coverage is generally based on the number of employees. Many believe Employment Practices claims are on the rise, thus making it even more important to protect your business. Below are a few examples within different industries that demonstrates how an employment case can impact your small business.

Scenario 1: Associate Alleges Retaliation After Forming Diversity Group

An associate of a law firm created an internal diversity council with the intent to make members of protected classes in the firm feel included, attract and retain diverse employees, and educate others about the general benefits of diversity in the workplace. During the following months, the associate received fewer case assignments from partners and not invited to client development events. Her billable hours declined, and she received a smaller annual bonus than the previous year. She continued to feel excluded and sued the law firm for discrimination and retaliation. After incurring more than $150,000 in defense expenses, the law firm settled for approximately $250,000.

Scenario 2: Employee with Disabled Parent Alleges Failure to Accommodate

An employee requested that her hours be adjusted so that she could better care for her disabled father in the mornings. Her supervisor denied her request. She then made an appeal to the business owner and was told that she was needed during core business hours and that if she wasn’t happy with her schedule, she could look for employment elsewhere. She then quit and sued the company under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), alleging failure to accommodate and discrimination on the basis of being associated with a disabled person. After incurring more than $75,000 in defense expenses, the case settled for nearly $100,000.

Scenario 3:  Long-time Employee Files Suit for Wrongful Termination

A transportation company claimed that one of their truck drivers suffered from a mental disability that prevented him from being able to safely operate trucks and suspended him indefinitely without pay. The truck driver filed a suit for wrongful termination, in which the jury agreed, and was awarded $757,000.

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