As a church, you care about making your congregation and staff feel valued. However, even if you do everything you can to ensure smooth relationships with your staff, employment practices liability (EPL) risks remain. In fact, employment liability is one of the most common reasons for church litigation - and yet, only a handful of churches know about or protect themselves against this risk. That’s why it’s crucial for your church to have EPL coverage. Such a policy can offer protection for claims that result from employees alleging various employment-related issues—such as discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination.
Once you get EPL coverage, the next step is to stay up to date on the latest EPL market trends. Keeping your church in the loop means having the information needed to respond appropriately to our ever-changing world. Plus, you’ll be able to make any necessary coverage adjustments. This article will walk you through the various sources for employment liability in 2021 and what you’ll need to cover your church against.
The COVID-19 Pandemic
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemonium has forced many organizations to make serious workplace changes—such as having staff work and meet remotely, adjusting layouts, or downsizing considerably. And with these changes, EPL claims inevitably have followed. Some of the most common, pandemic-related EPL claims include:
Allegations that unsafe working conditions or minimal precautionary measures (e.g., poor sanitation practices, a lack of social distancing protocols or inadequate personal protective equipment) contributed to staff getting sick or dying from COVID-19
Allegations of retaliation after an objection to unsafe working conditions or workplace exposure to individuals displaying COVID-19 symptoms
Allegations of disability discrimination related to remote working (e.g., failing to accommodate remote staff or denying the option to work remotely)
Allegations related to paid leave concerns (e.g., forcing staff to take leave, retaliating against indivduals that take leave due to COVID-19 or not allowing staff to take leave due to COVID-19 altogether)
Allegations of laying off staff without providing proper notices
Allegations of discrimination related to laying off employees
With these trends in mind, it’s crucial to fully document and review any changes created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ensure the adjustments adequately consider the needs of your team and are compliant with employment law.
Several social movements have led to an increase in EPL claims in recent years, including the #MeToo movement and the Black Lives Matter movement.
The #MeToo movement—which is an anti-sexual harassment campaign that was originally founded in 2006 and has gained significant social media attention since 2017—largely contributed to a 50% rise in sexual harassment lawsuits against employers over the past few years, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This movement emphasizes how important it is for employers to implement effective sexual harassment prevention measures (e.g., a zero-tolerance policy and a sexual harassment awareness training program), reporting methods and response protocols.
The Black Lives Matter movement—which is a racial justice campaign that was originally founded in 2013 and resurged in 2020 in the form of nationwide protests—has the potential to become a driving factor in race-related workplace discrimination and harassment lawsuits. This movement makes it increasingly vital for your organization to take steps to promote diversity, acceptance and inclusion in the workplace, as well as take any accusations or reports of racism seriously.
The recent chaos surrounding these movements as well as the election have made allegations fly back and forth. It has never been more necessary to document every formal interaction thoroughly and hold yourself, your church, and your management team accountable to both God as well as to the law. It pays to note that the Church has been under fire for a while currently as reports of vandalism and crimes against the church and its people have continued to occur at an increasing rate. In other words, the church has become quite a target for several individuals and EPL is one of their more sophisticated weapons.
We’re Here to Help
You don’t have to respond to this changing risk landscape alone. We’re here to help you navigate these EPL market trends with ease. For additional coverage guidance and solutions, contact Carriage Trade Insurance today. We specialize in getting the right financial protection for your church, so that you can focus on spreading the Gospel.