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"THE EPL BOOK: A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES LIABILITY AND INSURANCE" BY ANDREW KAPLAN, RACHEL MCKINNEY, BETH SCHROEDER AND LEONARD SURDYK PUBLISHED BY GRIFFIN COMMUNICATIONS INC., 1420 BRISTOL ST. N., #220, NEWPORT BEACH, CALIF. 92660 $125 PLUS SHIPPING AND HANDLING
Mitsubishi, Texaco, Circuit City. No, this is not a string of hot stock tips. Rather, it is a partial list of companies stung by harassment, wrongful termination and discrimination claims, all of which seem to be growing. Further, the damage awards to plaintiffs are growing to such an extent that employment practices liability suits pose devastating financial challenges to many organizations.
This book couldn't be more timely. Recent statistics show that since 1990, there has been more than a hundred-fold jump in complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Claims alleging workplace discrimination produce an average court award of $300,000. Sexual harassment claims net-on average-awards of about $150,000 apiece. Those are just the cases going to trial, excluding those settled without going to court.
Along comes "The EPL Book" from Griffin Communications to address these thorny situations. This book is a team effort, and the team members are solidly credentialed. Andrew Kaplan is a management labor consultant with a Los Angeles law firm. Rachel McKinney is a senior underwriter with Swett & Crawford. Beth Schroeder and Leonard Surdyk are employment lawyers. Although some have joked that, "A camel is a horse designed by a committee," let the record show that the committee approach to this book works very effectively.
"The EPL Book" aspires to be to employment practices what "The D&O Book" (also by Griffin Communications) was to directors and officers exposures: a one-stop reference for risk managing a specific exposure. For the most part, it succeeds. "The EPL Book" is a treasure trove of useful information, providing discussions, chart comparisons, sample policy forms and graphic illustrations of key EPL coverage concepts that are not likely to be found in any other single source.
Further, "The EPL Book" is a handy tool kit for busy risk managers and insurance professionals tackling this new and important line of coverage. The book contains detailed explanations of key policy terms, conditions, definitions and exclusions. Presenting the material in a thorough and non-technical style, "The EPL Book" supplements its discussions with illustrations, charts and graphs that help decipher and untangle the often non-standard EPL coverage features.
Don't get the idea, though, that this book is just about insurance. What sets it apart in breaking new ground is its treatment of EPL exposures from a "total risk management perspective." Thirteen chapters cover everything from the history and status of employment law to why most existing business insurance policies offer little or no coverage for EPL claims. There is even a handy and detailed chapter containing a broad range of statistical loss data pertaining to these claims.
While at one time buyers could dismiss EPL coverage as nearly impossible to procure, that is not the case now. Increasingly, due diligence dictates that agents, brokers and risk managers formally determine whether and how EPL coverage fits into the organization's overall portfolio of risk management techniques.
Some risk managers may consider the most useful resource to be the user-friendly comparison charts that enable insurance professionals to quickly compare hundreds of coverage features among dozens of different policy forms. These charts should prove to be a terrific resource in buying EPL coverage.
One caveat: EPL coverage is a dynamic realm, beset with change. The form comparisons contained in "The EPL Book" may have a limited shelf life. Because the value of the "The EPL Book" may diminish over time in this respect, the publisher should consider periodic supplements and updates to track the ever-changing EPL marketplace.
For the burgeoning field of EPL risk management, though, "The EPL Book" sets the standard, a benchmark by which all other works in this area will be compared. Any company with employees would be well served by reading and heeding its risk management advice.
Kevin M. Quinley is senior vp of risk services for MEDMARC Insurance Co. Inc. and subsidiary Hamilton Resources Corp., both of Fairfax, Va. He holds the Chartered Property & Casualty Underwriter and Associate in Risk Management designations.