COVID-19 Increasing EPLI Lawsuits

The coronavirus pandemic has changed almost every aspect of the way companies do business. Employers have shown great flexibility in their response to changing government mandates and shifting cultural norms around social distancing, mask-wearing, and working from home. One development that has surprised many companies is an increase in EPLI lawsuits. Find out what this insurance covers and how to protect yourself from litigation.

What Does an EPLI Policy Cover?

Workers’ compensation and employee practices liability insurance both protect you from expenses related to employee claims. However, whereas workers’ compensation covers the medical expenses of those injured on the job, EPLI insurance protects you when employees claim that you have violated their rights. Regardless of whether an accusation is substantiated or not, EPLI insurance pays the court costs and legal representation fees needed to defend your company’s reputation.

Rights violations come in many different forms, depending on the situation and the employee. The following are examples of claims that Ohio EPLI covers:

  • Breach of contract
  • Family and Medical Leave Act violations
  • Discrimination based on age, gender, race, or sexual orientation
  • Sexual harassment
  • Wrongful termination or demotion
  • Failure to promote
  • Hostile work environment that causes emotional distress
  • Retaliation
  • Defamation
  • Mismanagement or misrepresentation of benefits

Has COVID-19 Increased EPLI Claims?

Some analysts have noted increasing trends in Ohio EPLI litigation. While some increases are due to the high visibility of various social movements that call attention to sexual harassment, gender-based pay inequality, and systemic racism, the threat of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace has resulted in even new types of claims related to employee health.

Employees may believe an employer has violated their rights in relation to COVID-19 in some of the following situations:

  • An employee does not feel safe coming to work for fear of contracting the virus
  • Co-workers do not wear masks or maintain social distance
  • Adequate cleaning supplies are lacking
  • Only certain employees are allowed to work from home
  • Quarantines are not enforced or employees are penalized for complying

How Can a Business Minimize Risk?

Now is the time to scrutinize your company’s policies and procedures regarding its response to COVID-19. If you require employees to wear face coverings, put this expectation in writing, including the types of masks that are acceptable. If traveling to infected areas is an essential job duty, then be certain that the official job description contains a clear mention of this fact.

With no end to the pandemic in sight, employers must continue to adapt to changing circumstances and mitigate new risks that seem to lurk around every corner. Being certain that your workers’ compensation insurance is up-to-date and purchasing additional EPLI coverage is the best way to protect your company in these uncertain times.

About Haughn & Associates 

Founded by Michael Haughn in 1986, Haughn & Associates is a full-service, family-owned, independent insurance agency based out of Dublin, Ohio. H&A strives to provide the best possible price and unique insurance solutions across a myriad of industries, including construction, IT, Habitation & Commercial Property, Agriculture, and Engineering. Devoted to providing the best of business insurance, life and disability insurance, personal insurance, employee benefits, and bonds, H&A is proof that success lies in long-standing client relations and satisfaction. To learn more about how H&A can be of service to you, contact us at (877) 802-2278.