Over the last decade, hundreds of workplace laws have been passed, creating a tremendous regulatory burden for employers across the country. And because of it employers are now more likely to have an employment related claim even more than a property or general liability claim.

The cost of defending employment practices liability (EPL) claims could be financially devastating for many small to mid-size businesses who will take a disproportionate loss when it comes to these new edicts. The Society for Human Resource Management reports that 41 percent of all EPL claims are brought against small employers with 15 to 100 employees.

Restaurants and other hospitality venues that fall into this category will be subject to a widening collection of federal, state and local employment laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act - just to name a few. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is now taking a more aggressive stance in investigating EPL claims and filing lawsuits for sexual harassment, discrimination, wrongful termination, retaliatory treatment and unfair hiring practices.

Create a fair work environment for everyone

As an employer, you must do everything in your power to treat your employees fairly and maintain a non-hostile, harassment-free environment for all. Ideally, this can happen through the formal creation of policies and procedures that the company – including senior managers – takes seriously and abides by. A critical piece of this policy will be to take all employee complaints seriously, following through to both make the employee feels comfortable and stop the behavior in its tracks.

But, even if you do everything right and comply with all federal, state and local regulations, there’s still a chance you could be held liable for the actions of your employees, third party vendors or even your customers - by association. You could also be the subject of a discrimination suit if someone you interview but fail to hire feels that he or she was treated unfairly.

Put the necessary security blanket in place

Employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) can protect any business against claims made by potential hires, employees currently on your payroll and even previously-terminated employees. With EPLI coverage, your company is protected against claims including:

  • Wrongful termination
  • Employment-related emotional distress and invasion of privacy
  • Defamation
  • Retaliatory/constructive discharge
  • Sexual harassment and discrimination
  • Workplace torts such as slander

EPLI coverage generally provides recipients with the cost to defend against the EPL charges plus any damages you are ordered to pay.

Heightened exposure calls for heightened response

As employers face a growing number of serious employment practices liability exposures in their daily interactions with employees, companies are learning the hard way just how complex the employee-employer relationship has become.

To learn more about how EPLI can provide much-needed protection and peace of mind, contact your HUB broker today.