Employer Liability vs. Workers’ Comp: Know The Difference?

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By Tom Murphy

Confusion can reign when it involves employers trying to determine if something falls under their workers’ compensation coverage or their employer liability coverage. The fact is, many employers/medical practices do not even carry employer liability insurance, otherwise known as EPLI. In Florida, any non-construction employer with four (4) or more employees is required by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance. There is no requirement for employers to carry EPLI.

Employer liability insurance is becoming ever more important for all businesses, since we have been seeing a rapid increase in complaints and claims in the world of medical practices in the past two years and with the recently formed #MeToo movement. This, combined with the rise of social media, has created the perfect storm for the increase in employer liability claims. The most prevalent claims currently being experienced are employer retaliation, sexual harassment, and discrimination.

The aforementioned issues and many others fall under employer liability and could be serious enough to lead to an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint or a lawsuit, or both. In 2017, almost 6,700 sexual harassment complaints resulted in a recovery of almost $46 million from employers to the EEOC, an increase of almost 15% from 2016, and the numbers keep growing. This does not include personal claims and lawsuits, which cost employers far more in defense and payments.

Conventional wisdom has always taught us that politics, religion, and sex are topics we should refrain from discussing at work. Given the current political atmosphere in this country, as well as other hot-button issues and the explosion of social media, employers should be mindful of these issues and would be well-advised to implement policies to prevent or reduce these problems. It may be time to update the employee handbook.

Workers’ compensation is fairly simple and straightforward, with the exception of allowing attorneys into the system that was set up to be “no-fault” and designed to compensate employees regardless of fault involving an injury on the job. Workers’ compensation pays for all reasonable medical bills, as well as lost time, with the goal of returning the injured employee back to work at the earliest opportunity.