Lawsuits against Florida dentists claiming workplace discrimination are on the rise. In fact, employment-related discrimination claims are more frequent with healthcare providers, including dentists, than with any other type of risk. With a sagging economy and high unemployment due to consolidation in the dental healthcare industry, employees are suing employers as never before. The moment a dentist begins to interview, he or she is at risk for a discrimination-related lawsuit.
Workplace employee discrimination goes far beyond sex and race discrimination. Today, employees in dental offices are suing for discrimination based on age, disability (both visible and psychological), sexual orientation, religion, national origin, appearance, weight, and gender identity.
It is also becoming easier for employees of dental offices to communicate with other employees and with the outside world about unacceptable and potentially discriminating workplace behaviors, thanks to new digital platforms.
Dental employees who are “different” may face taunts from other employees, from employers, and even from patients. They may feel the painful effects of exclusion or ostracism. Today, instead of complaining or retreating, they are apt to sue the dentist employer.
A dental patient may claim that he or she was refused treatment because of his age, weight, sexual orientation, or nationality. An Employment Practices claim could be brought against a dentist, claiming that she was discriminated against because she was overweight.
Employment Practices Liability Insurance
Gracey-Backer, Inc. strongly recommends that Florida dentists purchase Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) to protect the practice from lawsuits by employees, independent contractors, patients or vendors for the above-mentioned accusations of discrimination, and other accusations that their legal rights have been violated. The EPLI policy will also assist the dentist in setting up policies and procedures designed to prevent an employment-related claim. If one occurs, the dentist has somewhere to turn—almost like having a skilled labor attorney on retainer. EPLI policies will reimburse the Florida dental office against the costs of defending a lawsuit in court and for judgments and settlements. The EPLI policy covers legal costs, regardless of whether the dentist wins or loses the case. EPLI policies typically do not pay for punitive damages or civil or crimnal fines. Liabilities covered by other insurance policies such as general liability and workers compensation are excluded from EPLI policies.
Employment Practices Liability premiums are extremely reasonable, even when third-party discrimination is included. A small dental office in Florida can expect to pay under $2,000 for $1,000,000 coverage. The rate is based on the number of employees in the dental office and other risk factors such as whether there has been a prior employment-related claim.
Remember that just one single employment-related lawsuit can ruin a dental practice and take up an extraordinary amount of time. Every Florida dental office should carry appropriate EPLI coverage. Even if the practice has not experienced an employment-related claim in the past does not mean that one will not happen in the future. If an employee or third party makes an accusation, you must still pay to defend yourself, even if you are innocent!
For more information and for a no-obligation quote, kindly call the experts at Gracey-Backer, Inc. Please remember that quotes are free and we are here to assist you, the Florida dentist, in protecting your practice through quality insurance products.