COVID-19-related employment practices liability claims are on the rise as companies everywhere embark on the rocky transition back to a pre-quarantine workplace. Both employers and insurance providers are struggling to respond to the changing landscape and mitigate growing insurance expenses. There’s never been a more important time for businesses to protect themselves with employment practices liability insurance (EPLI), and it’s not yet too late to do so.
The COVID-19 Vaccine Debate
Now that the transition back to pre-pandemic life is in full-swing, many companies are requiring their employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine before returning to work–about 30% according to recent data–a policy which has quickly led to an unprecedented spike in employment lawsuits regarding discrimination and workplace health and safety standards.
On one side of the aisle are those who are vaccinated and concerned about workplace safety. They expect their employer to take steps to prevent COVID-19 from spreading at work, including implementing vaccine mandates, providing the appropriate personal protective equipment, adequately disinfecting workspaces, and enforcing social distancing where possible. Employees with vulnerable family members are especially concerned. They worry that even if they have received the vaccine themselves, they could unknowingly bring the virus home with them and infect at-risk loved ones.
On the other side are those who prefer not to receive the vaccine and expect their employer to respect their wishes and continue to treat them equally. Some people who would rather forgo the COVID-19 vaccine are concerned about the preliminary nature of the available vaccine choices, and others cite health conditions or religious beliefs as their justification. In any case, these workers feel that their exclusion from the workplace based on their personal medical choices constitutes illegal discrimination.
Employment Practices Liability Lawsuits Are on the Rise
Regardless of which side of the issue they’re on, employees are proving that they are willing to take their cases to court; about 3,000 already have since the start of the pandemic. This obviously puts employers in a difficult situation. It’s impossible to please everyone, so an influx of EPL lawsuits seems inevitable no matter how the problem is approached. Without a clear way to solve the issue as of now, EPLI is absolutely essential for a business that hopes to weather the swell in legal costs. The problem isn’t likely to go away on its own, either. Experts expect to see the frequency of EPL claims continue to rise even further as the vaccine debate drags on.
To further complicate the issue, insurance providers are balking at the prospect of covering the number of EPL lawsuits their clients are suddenly facing. Some providers are either reducing the EPLI coverage they offer or increasing premium rates to defend themselves against the surge in legal costs. This change is forcing employers to scramble to find affordable EPLI before they find themselves solely responsible for a mountain of legal fees. There’s still a chance to make preventative arrangements, as some insurance providers are taking a calculated risk by continuing to offer full EPLI coverage in hopes of capitalizing on its diminishing supply and increasing demand.
What Employment Practices Liability Insurance Can Do for You
Considering the labyrinth of legal combinations and potential lawsuits that COVID-19 has introduced, it’s a good time to review the state of your business’s insurance. EPLI insurance is currently an invaluable asset to safely navigating the post-pandemic employment arena.
Here are a few common scenarios in which EPLI could possibly protect your business:
- An employee claims to have contracted COVID-19 at work due to inadequate health and safety practices in the workplace (namely, being required to work in close quarters with unvaccinated co-workers).
- An employee claims to be a victim of discrimination after their employer terminates them on the grounds of non-compliance with a company mask or vaccine mandate.
- An employee claims that they were subjected to an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 because their employer failed to provide them with legally required personal protective equipment.
- An employee claims that they were subjected to an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 because their employer failed to take adequate disinfecting and social distancing measures.
- An employee claims that their private information was exposed without their consent due to their employer’s contact-tracing efforts.
Don’t wait for the problem to get worse. Start looking for employment practices liability insurance now and prepare your business for the incoming wave of COVID-19-related employment practices liability claims. Want more information regarding EPLI coverage, call us 800-362-2809