By Phil Chavez, Strategic Insurance Consultants
Today’s business leaders have enough to juggle without the added stress of employment practices liability. Unfortunately, employers and other business leadership are now more vulnerable to employment practices suits than ever before. In fact, according to Bloomberg BNA, employment-related lawsuits recently reached a record high, with more than 7,000 cases filed in the year-long period ending in March 2012. And the Dayton Business Journal explains that they grew 35 percent between 2007 and 2010 alone. Meanwhile, other estimates suggest roughly three out of every five employees will sue their employer at some point—it can happen in any size business no matter how careful you are.
This clear upward trend is due in large part to the economic climate—more layoffs and increased economic concerns mean more concerned individuals are looking for a new cash stream.
Fortunately, business leaders can protect themselves from this growing threat with employment practices liability insurance.
What You Need to Know About Employer Employee Liability
Before we discuss the value of this particular form of coverage, we’ll walk you through the key points of employment practices litigation. Suits alleging violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, also referred to as the Wages and Hours Bill, are the most common and easy to track—they are indeed the source of the statistics mentioned above. But a series of other laws apply to business leadership, too, including the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Family Medical Leave Act.
Together, that legislation may give all your employees—past, present, and future included—grounds to allege that you or other business leaders have abused their rights as individuals and employees. This means your entire business is held responsible, including directors.
There are several grounds for litigation. Many are based on the simple fact that the FLSA is outdated, coupled with outdated state law provisions, which can make it difficult for employers to properly classify employees as exempt or nonexempt. This misunderstanding can be extremely costly, considering that uncompensated “work” performed off the clock can be grounds for suit years after the fact. Other potential grounds for litigation focus around questions of discrimination, which, as difficult as they may seem to prove or disprove, can take a heavy toll on your bottom line. Questions of wrongful termination are also common, with multiple forms of legal grounds.
Unfortunately, even if your leadership team is made up of only the most trustworthy individuals, every single director has the potential to be a target for a suit no matter how good their intentions may be. And even if you are able to prove innocence in a court of law, the expenses of mounting legal defense are costly.
This all changes when you have reliable employment practices liability coverage.
Finding the Right Employment Practices Liability Insurance for Your Business
The bottom line is that litigation alleging wrongful employment actions is costly and difficult to address—and instances of it are on the rise. That means that nowadays, a strategic business plan must take employment liability risk into consideration. The loss you might face from even a single suit filed by a single employee—current, past, and potential—could itself be devastating. Multiply that by current trends and you can see the clear importance of protecting yourself from this liability.
The best forms of employment liability insurance will cover all your directors and officers. A comprehensive insurance plan will protect you against allegations and, when necessary, mitigate damage.
It is all part of maximizing your business success by lowering the total cost of human capital and maximizing your return on investment.
Talk to your insurance provider about their employment liability solutions. Or, for a quote on cost-effective coverage that services your bottom line and enhances your risk management, contact Phil Chavez, Strategic Insurance Consultant, today.