Examples of Employment Practices Liability (EPL) Claims and How to Avoid

Businesses across all industries must be conscientious about preventing Employment Practices Liability claims. Devising clear policies about managing human resources, staying in compliance with applicable regulations governing employer-employee relationships, and including EPL coverage in your commercial insurance elections can safeguard your operations. Here are some key examples of claims employees initiate against employers and what you can do to protect your business.

Employment Practices Liability Involving Hiring and Promotions

It is essential to be aware that federal protections for workers cover situations before a person becomes an employee of your company. Per the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regulations, employers cannot refuse to hire job applicants on discriminatory grounds. Remember that a claimant does not need to prove that you intend for your hiring practices to be discriminatory but only that they have a discriminatory effect.

It is best to ensure that hiring managers are familiar with the types of questions impermissible in job interviews. Ultimately, questions like this may seem like a regular or friendly conversation. However, asking about interviewees’ family status, nationality, or other qualities that could put them within a protected class could give rise to perceptions of discrimination. 

Disparate treatment of individuals belonging to a protected class could be relevant to promotions or compensation. Claimants may be able to demonstrate inequities if your business records indicate that members of a protected class rarely or never receive promotions. 


Firing personnel because of a protected status could result in a lawsuit alleging discrimination. Likewise, firing someone in retaliation for filing a complaint about a problem, such as safety violations or noncompliance with fiduciary responsibilities, could lead to a claim against your EPL coverage. 

To combat these types of claims, create practical directives about disciplinary action. Having straightforward policies and following them consistently makes you significantly less vulnerable to EPL claims. 

Sexual Harassment

Employees who endure sexual advances or other inappropriate workplace behavior may claim against their employer in civil court or file a complaint with a state-appointed commission. An anti-harassment policy is crucial to preventing EPL claims of this nature. In addition, anti-harassment training for personnel is an excellent strategy for proactively setting expectations, deterring inappropriate behavior, and avoiding EPL claims.

Hostile Working Environment Allegations and Employment Practices Liability

What is an EPL claim alleging a hostile working environment? Employers may be liable for creating a hostile working environment if employees experience emotional distress due to defamatory, humiliating, or abusive treatment.

Staff members could have standing to make these claims regardless of whether the abuse they experienced originated from a company’s leadership or someone whose place within an organizational hierarchy is lower than their own. If leadership is aware of hostile treatment and fails to take action, it may be sufficient grounds for them to recover damages for Employment Practices Liability. 

To prevent EPL claims, train your human resources department about what type of conduct and communication is acceptable within the workplace. Establish a grievance procedure so employees may take recourse internally rather than resort to legal action immediately. Lastly, ensure adequate contingencies to address claims by carrying comprehensive EPL coverage.

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.