Help Protect Your Governmental Entity from Employment Liability Claims

Governmental Employees

As a public sector employer, you have a responsibility to provide a safe and fair working environment for all employees. Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, workplace issues and conflicts can still arise, leaving your public sector organization vulnerable to employment liability claims. These claims can be financially devastating, damaging to your entity’s reputation, and disruptive to your ability to provide services within your district. Therefore, it's important to take proactive steps to help protect your public entity against such claims.

Navigating the Landscape of Workplace Discrimination Regulations and EEOC Enforcement

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the governmental agency that enforces federal laws regarding workplace discrimination. These federal laws make it illegal for any employer to discriminate against a public sector job applicant and/or employee because of any of the following factors:

  • Age
  • Race
  • Sex (including pregnancy, gender identity and sexual orientation)
  • Color
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Disability
  • Genetic information

Most employers with at least 15 employees (or 20 employees in age discrimination cases) are covered by EEOC laws. Federal anti-discrimination laws apply to all work situations, including hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages and benefits.

Common Employment Practices Liability Insurance Claims

Employment practices liability claims typically refer to complaints made against an organization for allegations including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Wrongful termination
  • Wage and hour violation
  • Various forms of harassment
  • Various forms of discrimination
  • Data breaches (or breaches of personal data stored on an employer’s network)
  • Social media actions (or discrimination occurring online related to accounts associated with an employer)
  • Interference with employees’ legal rights
  • Violation of employment law(s)
  • Failure to protect, and/or retaliation (Whistleblower rights)

The Potential Cost of Employment Practices Liability Claims

Employment practices liability claims can be financially costly for any governmental entity, regardless of its size. These claims may result in legal fees, settlements or judgments, as well as damage to the entity’s reputation and decreased employee morale. The cost of these claims can be significant and may negatively impact operating budgets and the quality of services provided. The EEOC has reported the following data trends on overall claims:

EEOC Total Monetary Benefits

While the reasons may not be abundantly clear, this graph shows that overall litigation and enforcement settlements significantly increased from 2019 to 2020, and perhaps could be lunging past statistics just before COVID-19.

EEOC Charge Reciept by Basis

This graph displays a breakdown of the types of claims in 2020. Claims related to retaliation, disability and race discrimination comprised the most claims during that time.

Proactive Measures to Prevent Costly Claims

Your governmental entity can purchase insurance to help protect against claims or allegations of unfavorable employment practices, but it’s also worthwhile to make efforts to comply with federal law(s).


Below are some steps to help prevent unlawful employment practices claims:


  1. Base employment decisions on facts. Ensure that considerations, such as race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation or gender identity), national origin, disability, age (40 or older) or genetic information, are not part of decisions to hire, fire, promote, pay, train, discipline or other work-related actions.
  2. Provide reasonable accommodations. A reasonable accommodation is a change to how things are usually done at work because of a medical or religious reason. These changes can include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • Changes to equipment
    • Changes to a work schedule
    • Allowing alternate routes to areas of the building
    • Changes to a working environment
  3. Create and adopt an anti-discrimination policy. Your policy should allow zero tolerance for discrimination in the workplace.
  4. Ensure all employees understand their rights and responsibilities at work.
  5. Ensure everyone is alert to potential harassment and discrimination instances in the workplace and what to do should they witness these instances.
  6. Ensure that your governmental entity has implemented protections for employees who report unlawful conduct in the workplace and/or participate in an investigation and/or lawsuit.
  7. Post an EEO poster at your place of business.
  8. Document. Maintain accurate personnel or employment records for a minimum of one year. If an employee is involuntarily terminated, the EEOC requires that their personnel records be retained for at least one year from the date of termination.
  9. File an EEO-1 Report if you have 100 or more employees. Some federal contractors with at least 50 employees must also file this report.
  10. Ensure your governmental entity has implemented a system for employees to anonymously report unlawful employment situations without fear of retaliation.
  11. Take steps to ensure that public sector employees know and understand what inappropriate behaviors in the workplace are and how to report them if they happen. These steps can include the following:
    • Training of all employees
    • Training of supervisors, managers, directors and leaders within your organization
  12. Take all reports of unlawful employment practices seriously. Ensure that all complaints are thoroughly and fairly investigated and resolved.
  13. Consult employment liability attorneys licensed in your state for program/process reviews. 

By following the above steps, you can help ensure that your governmental entity has effectively implemented a plan to address every report of unlawful employment practices. 

Secure Your Governmental Entity’s Financial Stability with Employment Practices Liability

Don't wait until it's too late to help protect your governmental entity from employment-related claims. Contact our Public Sector team today to learn more about how employment practices liability coverage can help safeguard your entity and ensure its long-term success.

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