Christianity Today

Employee lawsuits against churches are on the rise

Why you need to consider employment practices liability insurance.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | For Church Finance Today

Twenty years ago, employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) policies were scarce in the United States. Even a decade ago, most employers didn’t purchase that type of coverage. That has changed.

In 2018, it’s estimated that half of all firms with 1,000 or more workers have in place some version of EPLI coverage, which protects employers against employee claims alleging discrimination, wrongful termination, harassment, or other employment-related issues. Many smaller businesses now are following suit as insurance companies make such policies more available and accessible.

Should churches take notice of this trend in the public and private sector? Yes, according to the experts we interviewed.

“Churches have this belief that they don’t have these type of issues and that they would never have an employee sue them,” said Cori Cable, associate corporate counsel with Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company. “But the fact is, it does happen. There might have been a time a few decades ago where churches were never sued, but that has really gone out the window. Employment practice claims are some of the fastest-growing claims against churches, and it’s because of discrimination, harassment, retaliation and other wrongful termination claims.”

The damages awarded through settlement and judgement are increasing, too.

“Employment practices lawsuits are returning very large damages and judgements,” said Frank Sommerville, CPA, nonprofit attorney, and editorial advisor for Church Finance Today. “If you look at statistics from the courts, you’ll see these coming in the hundreds of thousands of dollars each. Churches underestimate this.”

Read the full article.

This package appears on the January 2019 cover of Church Finance Today, a publication of Christianity Today.

Related: “How to reduce EPLI costs and claims.”

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