Congratulations! You are open for business. You've set up shop and hung out your shingle. You have probably prepared yourself by purchasing an insurance policy. Unfortunately, in today's increasingly litigious society, a general or professional liability policy still leaves you exposed and vulnerable. One statistic states that 19 million lawsuits are filed each year. If you own a business, investment properties, or are a professional, you may have a one in three chance of being named in a lawsuit. If you are named personally in a lawsuit for something your policy excludes, your personal assets become fair game– home, financial accounts, life insurance policies that have a cash value, real estate, businesses, cars, electronics, investment portfolios, collections of art, antiques, etc. Lawyers are expert at identifying gaps and exclusions in insurance policies and consequently will go after damages that exceed your policy coverage. They will come to huff and puff until they blow your house, your bank account, and any other personal assets all down. An additional insurance policy may be necessary to make sure you don't lose everything to the big bad wolf.
Have you ever been summoned for jury duty? Well, let me tell you a little about it. You HAVE to go; no if, and, or buts about it. You are sometimes allowed to reschedule, but you’ve still got to do your time. Missing work, school, birthdays, weddings, or whatever it may be is inconvenient to say the least. What if the case continues on for weeks or even months? Now can you imagine if you weren’t on the jury, but were the defendant?! It can happen easier than one might think, especially for all you professionals out there. Thinking that you’re completely protected from lawsuits is a rather naïve assumption, especially nowadays. Recent trends in court decisions have been holding HR practitioners, supervisors, business owners, and other decision-makers personally liable for their actions under several employment laws.
Businesses take risks. That’s the way it is. Business is risk. But, businesses also do everything they can to protect themselves. One way they protect themselves is to hire Human Resource professionals to ensure the business does not cross governmental legal parameters in regards to employee rights. The ironic thing is that these same HR professionals can actually be at risk themselves. Employment litigation is becoming increasingly common in the USA. And plaintiff attorneys are not only suing the companies, but also the managers and supervisors, including HR managers.
Every business knows it has to watch its bottom line, its profit margins, its vendor relationships, its break even points, and its fixed and variable costs. And at night when the world finally goes quiet, good employers are still thinking about their quarterly goals and their fiscal projections. But according to 2010 statistics what should actually be keeping employers up at night is how liable their company is to litigation. And not only their company, but themselves, personally. Statistics released by the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) show that record-breaking discrimination charges were filed in 2010 on behalf of US employees. The increase marked a 7.1% growth over 2009, and the highest number since 1965. Retaliation claims were up 7.9% over 2009. Disabilities discrimination claims were up 17%. Racial discrimination claims were up 6.9%. And the list goes on.