Friday, 20 November 2020 21:54

COVID-19: How Businesses Can Reduce the Risk of EPL Claims

Written by Talene M. Carter, PropertyCasualty360
A worker in a hazmat suit disinfects an office to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. A worker in a hazmat suit disinfects an office to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Shutterstock


As more employees return to the workplace throughout the country, employers face an increased risk of COVID-19-related employment practices liability (EPL) claims, such as national origin discrimination/harassment, ADA claims, disparate impact claims, retaliation and wage and hour.

Moreover, the economic downturn and high unemployment have exacerbated the potential risks and exposures for organizations for such claims. 
Organizations should be proactive and have a plan in place to help minimize exposure to EPL claims. Below are some best practices to consider when creating your plan.


Best practices and return-to-workplace guidelines


First and foremost, follow federal and local laws regarding when to return to the workplace and create a task force to help implement your plan. It is always recommended to consult with outside employment counsel to ensure compliance with all laws and the guidelines and regulations of local and state public health officials and government agencies.


Once the plan and taskforce are in place, next determine the order of employees returning to work. It is important to keep in mind that discrimination laws still apply. 


In determining the order, consider who needs to be on-site versus who can work remotely. While the CDC has identified certain “vulnerable” populations, be careful not to base decisions on age, pregnancy, disability...

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