Over the last two decades, employee lawsuits have risen over 400%, and wrongful termination suits have increased by over 200%, making Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) a vital line of coverage for any business owner. Within the ambulance industry, high employee turnover, predominantly part time labor, and regular interaction with disgruntled and impaired third parties, has made EPLI one of the most utilized lines of insurance coverage.
For those that don’t know, EPLI provides business owners coverage for wrongful termination, discrimination, sexual harassment and other EEOC related claims from current employees, former employees, and even third party individuals that employees interact with.
In today’s litigious society, a disgruntled employee, a bitter applicant, a mishandled firing, or an angry patient that had a bad experience is all it takes to land you and your organization in court. Without EPLI coverage, you are not only uninsured, you are also responsible for defense costs. Consider the following two claims and ask yourself if you may need EPLI coverage.
SCENARIO #1: Applicant claims discrimination against ambulance executives, alleges he wasn’t hired due to physical disability.
The management team of an ambulance company recently extended an employment offer to an applicant contingent on a physical exam. During the interview process, the applicant failed to disclose that he had physical lifting disabilities and back pain and he later failed his physical exam. A letter retracting the offer was sent to the applicant and despite his knowledge of the job description, he still filed a lawsuit. This claim is still pending although legal fees and a potential settlement are expected to exceed $200k.
SCENARIO #2: Employee alleges wrongful termination and retaliation.
An employee was terminated after sharing another employee’s confidential pay grade information with other employees. This employee later claimed that she was terminated because of medical issues affecting her attendance, her inability to meet billing deadlines and failure to attend continuing education seminars. In court, the employer was found to have not conducted a formal investigation of the confidential pay information and a jury later awarded the employee $336,000 in compensation. Defense costs were an additional $105,000.
Purchasing EPLI coverage will provide coverage for claims like this, but prevention is still the best remedy to avoiding EPLI claims. First, conduct background checks and develop a screening and hiring program for all candidates prior to hire. Sometimes the best hire you make is the one you don’t make. For employees, make sure that your human resource department regularly updates employee handbooks, provides detailed job descriptions and conducts periodic reviews of all employees. Most importantly, institute a zero tolerance policy against discrimination, substance abuse and any form of harassment. Make sure your organization has an “open door” policy in which employees can report infractions without fear of retaliation.
Best Ambulance Insurance, a division of Brown & Brown, offers the most comprehensive EPLI policy available for the ambulance industry. We work to act as an extension of your risk management team, by helping you prevent claims from being filed to begin with. If you are interested in learning more, please reach out today so we may provide you with a complimentary review of your current program.