Summer is in full effect and it’s been hot and muggy in So Cal. Another heat wave is on the horizon this week. We spend our summer weekends at the pool and the beach and when it’s 90+ degrees outside, the last thing we want to do is slip into our wool suits or heavy dress clothing when we go to work. As an employer, how do you treat the dress code standards at your workplace? Do you have a dress code?
Click here to read the California Chamber of Commerce Human Resources Department’s thoughts on the subject that employers should consider – especially during these hot summer days.
Quite honestly, I am floored by how many small businesses do not purchase Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI). For those who are unaware, Employment Practices Liability is coverage against claims by employees alleging that they suffered damages as a result of the employer’s discrimination, wrongful termination, sexual harassment, or various other employment-related offenses.
When saying I am floored by how many small businesses do not purchase EPLI, I am basing that off my own experience in helping businesses with their various risk exposures and insurance needs.
I understand there’s a price tag associated with the coverage, but there’s a reason why premiums can be hefty in California for EPLI. Statistics show businesses are more likely to face an employment claim than a property or general liability claim.
Check out these statistics:
- The average amount paid for out of court settlement is $40,000.
- Defense of an average EPL case, through trial, costs over $45,000.
- The median compensatory award for EPLI cases is $218,000.
- 67% of all employment cases that litigate result in judgment for the plaintiff.
- 41% of all EPLI claims are brought against small employers with 15 to 100 employees.
- Six out of ten employers have faced employee lawsuits within the last five years.
- 91,503 charges were filed in 2016, slightly higher than the past two years.
Most importantly, buying an EPLI policy provides defense coverage in the event of a claim or suit regardless of the legitimacy of the claim. A simple allegation cannot be ignored. When you receive that summons in the mail, you cannot just throw it away. It must be addressed and defended. EPLI provides defense coverage to protect your business.
Also, when buying EPLI, you have 24/7 access to Human Resource professionals and Employment Law attorneys to consult with if you need guidance on how to address an employment issue. Carriers don’t want to pay claims, so this offering is pushed on their part to help mitigate the potential of a more serious matter.
In my opinion, Employment Practices Liability Insurance is a must for any business with employees in California. The annual premium cost will seem like pennies on the dollar compared to the cost of a claim. Don’t believe me? Take a second look at the statistics above. You should act today before it’s too late. You can’t buy a policy for an Employment Practices claim or incident that already happened.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced last week that 84,254 workplace discrimination charges were filed with the federal agency nationwide during 2017.
The agency handled over 540,000 calls and more than 155,000 inquiries in field offices.
The FY 2017 data show that retaliation was the most frequently filed charge filed with the agency, followed by race and disability. The agency also received 6,696 sexual harassment charges and obtained $46.3 million in monetary benefits for victims of sexual harassment.
Specifically, the charge numbers show the following breakdowns by bases alleged, in descending order:
- Retaliation: 41,097 (48.8 percent of all charges filed)
- Race: 28,528 (33.9 percent)
- Disability: 26,838 (31.9 percent)
- Sex: 25,605 (30.4 percent)
- Age: 18,376 (21.8 percent)
- National Origin: 8,299 (9.8 percent)
- Religion: 3,436 (4.1 percent)
- Color: 3,240 (3.8 percent)
- Equal Pay Act: 996 (1.2 percent)
- Genetic Information: 206 (.2 percent)
These percentages add up to more than 100 because some charges allege multiple bases.
EEOC legal staff filed 184 merits lawsuits alleging discrimination in fiscal year 2017. The lawsuits filed by the EEOC included 124 individual suits and 30 suits involving multiple victims or discriminatory policies and 30 systemic discrimination cases. At the end of the fiscal year, the EEOC had 242 cases on its active docket. The EEOC achieved a successful outcome in 90.8 percent of all suit resolutions.
My question to you, do you have Employment Practices Liability Insurance for your business?
California joins Delaware, Massachusetts, Oregon, and several cities (including San Francisco) in passing laws preventing employers from asking prospective workers for their salary history. If asked, companies must also provide a pay range for the job in question. The new law, which comes into effect January 1, aims to curb the gender pay gap by keeping low salaries from following women through their careers.
Saw this sign driving around L.A. yesterday. Employers beware. Your employees are exposed to this type of marketing from attorneys. First and foremost, treat your employees with the respect they deserve. Build a strong culture of trust and put your employees first. However, what if you do your best but still get a bad seed filing a groundless wrongful termination or discrimination claim against you? Do you have the money and resources to defend it?
They say nationally, the cost of settling an Employment Practices Liability #EPL claim out of court averages $75,000, and the average jury award hits $217,000 if you go to court and lose. In CA, I’m sure it’s higher. Are you prepared? #EmploymentPracticesLiability
One of the most challenging aspects of owning a small business (particularly in California) is knowing and following legal requirements regarding hiring, managing, and sometimes terminating employees. It seems like there are new laws drafted daily. How can one possibly stay on top of it all???
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently launched a Small Business Resource Center designed to assist small business owners in their compliance with employment laws they, the EEOC, enforce.
This new dedicated EEOC Resource Center contains a general overview of small business obligations including the posting and record-keeping requirements to assist in staying compliant with the myriad of nondiscriminatory laws.
The website also has available FAQs, tips, fact sheets and videos, as well as no-cost outreach programs. This is a good resource to keep in mind when you need to make sure how you are treating employees is legal.
I wouldn’t recommend that you try to do it all on your own though. Use a professional Human Resources consultant or attorney when necessary when dealing with sensitive matters surrounding the employment process.
Need help finding a reputable Human Resources consultant or attorney to help with your business? Contact me today. I have relationships with some great ones who can help you out.
I will preface this by saying that I am not a Human Resources professional nor an attorney. Don’t take this as the end all/ be all when it comes to your employee relations. Although I am not and attorney or certified HR professional, I do help businesses with their risk management and insurance needs and Employment Practices Liability Insurance is one of those areas. Here in Southern California, Employment Practices Liability insurance claims happen a LOT more than general liability, professional liability (E&O) or any other areas of liability for that matter. I don’t have the statistical data, but working day-in and day-out with clients, I do see Employment Practices Liability claims a whole hell of a lot more than most other lines of insurance. And remember, Employment Practices Liability claims are NOT covered by a General Liability insurance policy or Workers’ Compensation.
With that being said, here are 10 EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) Tips for Small Businesses taken directly from the EEOC. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1964 to eradicate discrimination in employment. The Commission enforces various statutes that prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, retaliation, age, and disability or protected veteran status.
The EEOC has the authority to investigate charges of discrimination filed against employers who have a statutory minimum number of employees. HR can help avoid costly penalties by following the tips published by the EEOC.
- Look at the facts, not the faces. Race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation or gender identity), national origin, disability, age (40 or older) or genetic information (including family medical history) should not be a factor when you hire, fire, promote, pay, train, discipline or make other work-related decisions.
- Provide reasonable accommodations to applicants or employees who need them for medical or religious reasons, if required by law*.
- Develop a strong anti-discrimination policy before discrimination becomes a problem.
- Ensure that employees understand their rights and responsibilities at work.
- Be alert to potential harassment or discrimination. Stop, address and prevent harassment and discrimination.
- Ensure that employees are not punished for reporting discrimination, participating in a discrimination investigation or lawsuit, or opposing discrimination.
- Post an EEO poster at your business.
- Keep employment records as required by law.
- File an EEO-1 Report if you have 100 or more employees. Some federal contractors with at least 50 employees must also file this report.
- Contact the EEOC to request assistance, information or training.
* Federal, state and local laws may prohibit additional types of discrimination and/or require you to provide reasonable accommodations for other reasons. Federal, state and local government websites may have additional information about these laws.