Impact of Equal Workplace Claims on Public Entities

Tight budgets are nothing new for schools and municipalities. But as new economic and litigation trends make it harder to manage finances and risk, choosing proper protection is more critical than ever.

“Age discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, and failure to promote are all grounds for employment practices liability (EPL) claims. While regulations help protect employees, claims can cost employers a substantial amount of money.”

– Susan Kostro, Chief Underwriting Officer, Public Entities Practice, Liberty Mutual Insurance

What’s raising the stakes?

  1. Rising EPL claims.

    Recent data from show the number of employees filing charges with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is increasing:

  2. Decreasing sovereign immunity.

    Traditionally, schools and municipalities have had some protection from EPL claims through sovereign immunity. Now this protection is falling away, as some states lift or cap limitations, and leave public entities more vulnerable to liability.

  3. Fewer and higher tort caps.

    When allegations lead to lawsuits and claims, the financial consequences are steeper than ever.  That’s because states are changing or removing restrictions that previously helped control damages against employers found in the wrong. Now 14 states have no such caps, and others allow award damages from $100K to $5 million.

  4. Claims cost more – and take a long time to resolve.

    Defense costs alone for EPL claims can reach as high as $300,000, and take 18 to 24 months to resolve, says a report from Advisen.

Because these factors make it even harder for schools and municipalities to cope with the risk they face, it’s essential that public entities spot and resolve problems before they escalate into claims.

In 14 states, there are no tort caps on damages for employment practices liability. Other states allow awards from $100K to $5 million.

Controlling Costs with Services That Help Prevent Claims

Schools and municipalities that are self-insured or participate in risk pools could miss out on valuable services from insurers with specialized expertise that impacts the bottom line. “We help our clients manage their most challenging issues and lower the total cost of risk,” says Kostro.

The Liberty Mutual Human Resource Risk Management Services program, for example, supports public entity risk managers with:

  • A toll-free 24/7 helpline. Say a teacher reports harassment or an employee threatens to sue after layoffs. Liberty provides anonymous access to independent legal professionals, who can help evaluate liability and determine next steps.
  • Online tools to head off issues, and resolve them quickly.

For schools where risk management and human resources are combined, services like these are especially valuable. “They can keep managers from having to choose between hiring a lawyer and buying educational supplies.”

And that’s welcome news for schools that want to keep the focus on learning and serving their communities.


Learn more about Liberty Mutual coverage and services for public entities The EPL helpline and online content are provided by Workplace HELPLINE® LLC, d/b/a Enquiron, and its vendors, and not by Liberty Mutual Insurance or any of its affiliates. Liberty Mutual makes no representations about the effectiveness of Enquiron’s services, advice, or website. Additionally, Liberty Mutual has no involvement in the consultation services and is not affiliated with the attorneys, Enquiron, or the website.

This website is general in nature, and is provided as a courtesy to you. Information is accurate to the best of Liberty Mutual’s knowledge, but companies and individuals should not rely on it to prevent and mitigate all risks as as an explanation of coverage or benefits under an insurance policy. Consult your professional advisor regarding your particular facts and circumstance. By citing external authorities or linking to other websites, Liberty Mutual is not endorsing them.