Protecting Your Dental Practice: Understanding Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI)
As a dentist, you are dedicated to providing top-notch oral care to your patients. However, the business side of running a dental practice can expose you to potential legal risks related to your employees. Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) is a crucial safeguard that can protect your dental practice from costly lawsuits and legal disputes brought by your employees. In this article, we'll explore what EPLI is, the types of claims it covers, and how you can take proactive steps to minimize the risk of employee lawsuits.
EPLI, or Employment Practices Liability Insurance, is a specialized insurance policy designed to protect businesses, including dental practices, from claims made by employees alleging that their legal rights as workers have been violated. The number of lawsuits filed by employees against their employers has been on the rise, and this trend is not limited to large corporations. Even smaller businesses, such as dental practices, can be vulnerable to such legal challenges.
Types of Claims Covered by EPLI
According to the Insurance Information Institute, EPLI provides protection against a wide range of employee lawsuits, including claims related to:
- Sexual harassment
- Wrongful termination
- Breach of employment contract
- Negligent evaluation
- Failure to employ or promote
- Wrongful discipline
- Deprivation of career opportunity
- Wrongful infliction of emotional distress
- Mismanagement of employee benefit plans
The Cost of EPLI Coverage
The cost of EPLI coverage for your dental practice will depend on several factors, including the type of your business, the number of employees you have, and various risk factors. Whether your company has been sued over employment practices in the past can also influence the cost. EPLI policies typically cover legal costs associated with defending your dental practice in court, as well as judgments and settlements. It's important to note that these policies do not cover punitive damages or civil or criminal fines. Additionally, liabilities covered by other insurance policies, such as workers' compensation, are generally excluded from EPLI coverage.
Preventing Employee Lawsuits
While EPLI provides crucial protection, it's also important to take proactive steps to prevent employee lawsuits in the first place. Here are some preventive measures to consider:
- Effective Hiring and Screening Programs: Develop thorough hiring and screening processes to avoid any form of discrimination during the hiring process.
- Clear Business Policies: Ensure that your policies are posted throughout the workplace and included in employee handbooks. Having clear policies in place helps employees understand what is expected and what is not permissible.
- Education and Training: Educate your managers and employees about the steps to take if they experience sexual harassment, discrimination, or other workplace issues. It's important to ensure that your supervisors understand your company's stance on appropriate behavior.
- Documentation: Maintain detailed records of all employee interactions and disputes. Document the steps your dental practice is taking to prevent and resolve such issues. Good documentation can be invaluable in the event of a legal challenge.
Most importantly, get a signed employee manual and policies for your files. I recommend refreshing on the hot topics (uniform, vacation, time clock policies, dress codes, etc.) each year too.
As a dentist and a business owner, it's crucial to be aware of the potential legal risks associated with your employees. Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) is a valuable tool that can protect your dental practice from costly lawsuits. By taking proactive steps to prevent employee disputes and educating your staff on workplace policies, you can minimize the risk of legal challenges and focus on providing excellent dental care to your patients.