What is Employee Practices Liability Insurance?
Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI)—also referred to as employment liability insurance, employees liability insurance, EPLI, or EPL—provides employers, directors, officers, management, employees and the former employees of a business protection against such claims when they are made by employees, potential employees, or former employees. This can include the cost of defense as well as settlement.
While EPLI is a type of policy typically in place within large organizations, small businesses can be at risk as well. A groundless suit can cause major damage in financial resources and time if the company is not covered by an employment practices liability insurance plan. As a business owner—to protect your company’s longevity—you will want to have employment practices liability coverage before you hire your first employee.
What Does Employment Practices Liability Insurance Cover?
Employee practices liability insurance can provide coverage to a business if employment related claims are brought against them—from the beginning of the hiring and screening process to the termination of an employee. Here are some examples:
- Discrimination (due to gender, race, age, disability, religion, etc.)
- Deprivation of career opportunity (hiring or promoting)
- Violation of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- Sexual harassment
- Invasion of privacy
- Wrongful termination
- Breach of contract
- Negligent evaluation
- Wrongful discipline
- Infliction of emotional distress
- Mismanagement of employee benefit plans
EPLI will also cover a situation where one employee harasses another.
EPLI Covers Whistleblower Claims
Whistleblower claims are claims wherein employees allege that they were fired or the target of other adverse decisions based on their disclosure of illegal or unfair practices by the company or employer. This may also be covered in your employment practices liability insurance (EPLI)
Examples of EPLI Coverage
Example #1: You interview someone for an open position at your business and end up going with another candidate. The person you didn't hire noticed that she was the only non-white person being interviewed for the job. She believes she wasn't hired because of her race and sues your company for alleged discrimination. EPLI policies can help cover the associated legal costs, even if discrimination is not proven.
Example #2: You recently let an employe go without disclosing the reason their employment was terminated. At the time you were protecting the confidentiality of another employee. But the person who was terminated sued you for wrongful termination. The cost of the ensuing legal battle will be covered by your EPL insurance.
Example #3: A former employee steps forward and accuses one of your colleagues of sexual harassment. Your colleague vehemently denies the claims. Your employment practices liability will cover the legal costs even though your coworker was accused months later because the policy is still active.
What is Excluded From EPLI Coverage?
There are things that can be excluded from this insurance policy including, but not limited to:
- Punitive damages and other fines
- Claims of bodily injury
- Property damage
Anything that is typically covered under a general liability insurance policy or workers’ compensation are excluded from coverage. Additionally, claims will not be covered if they violate any of these federal laws/acts:
- ERISA Violations: According to the Department of Labor, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) "Protects the interests of employee benefit plan participants and their beneficiaries."
- COBRA Violations: The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) is a federal law that was passed in 1985 that provides extended insurance coverage for people who have quit or lost their jobs. If you violate this it will not be covered by EPLI.
- WARN Act Violations: The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act that was passed in 1988 requires any business with 100 or more employees to give at least 60-day notice in the event of mass layoffs.
- The National Labor Relations Act: If your business breaches this act, which is in place to protect workers, it will not be covered.
EPLI Insurance is a Claims-Made Policy
A claims-made policy means that if an employee—or previous employee—alleges misconduct, your EPL Insurance must be active at the time of the complaint. If it is not active, or you did not add tail coverage, the cost of legal counsel and settlements will not be covered by the policy.
NOTE: Some insurance companies outline in their policies that they will provide legal counsel in the event a claim is filed against you/your business. If you prefer to obtain your own legal counsel, make sure that is outlined specifically in your policy.
Does My Business Owners Policy Cover Employment Practices Liability Insurance?
It depends on the insurance company, but some will include employment practices liability as part of their business owners policy package. Others include it as part of directors and officers liability insurance. Check with your current insurance carrier and policies to see if this coverage is included.
How to Prevent Potential Lawsuits
There are some practices that your small business can put into place in order to prevent potential lawsuits that EPLI would need to cover. Here are a few examples:
- Develop an employee handbook that covers acceptable employment practices in the workplace, policies, and procedures.
- You must provide employees a detailed description of each position and what it entails in its entirety.
- Develop a screening process that removes the potential for bias and discrimination.
- Make sure your employment application includes a statement that you are an equal opportunity employer.
- If you’d like further protection, you can note that an employee can be terminated at any time, for any reason, with or without notice.
- Develop a working relationship with employees where they feel comfortable approaching you with concerns of discrimination—for a supervisor, fellow employee, or even yourself.
- Have an efficient system in place to document employee complaints as they arise and what you did as the employer to rectify and/or deal with the situation.
- Make sure your business Human Resources division or staff have been educated on employment law
Your licensed insurance professional can take a look at your policies regarding hiring, firing, training, and dispute settlement, and based on those items, provide you with good, solid advice and recommendations to help you reduce your risk.
How Much does Employment Practices Liability Insurance Cost?
What impacts the cost of an EPL Insurance policy? An insurance company may look at some of the following factors to determine the cost of EPLI policies:
- How many people are employed by your business
- Whether or not you’ve had complaints lodged against you in the past
- If you have established workplace policies and practices in place to prevent discrimination
- Policy limits and the deductibles you decide on for coverage
Because EPLI polices can provide coverage anywhere from $1 million to $25 million dollars, the cost can vary widely. Work with an agent to determine the probable coverage amount you need to protect your small business.
Get a Free Employment Practices Liability Insurance Quote
You need to protect your business from claims of wrongful termination, sexual harassment, and other situations that commonly arise in the course of business. Complete the form at the top of the page to connect with an agent who will help answer any questions you may have. They can also help you determine the right insurance company and level of EPLI coverage necessary for your business. The process is free, quick, and easy—so don't hesitate to contact us today.
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