Employment Practices Liability Insurance
Your brewery is booming. You’ve just celebrated your 7th anniversary party. In addition to the party, you’ve announced that you’re opening a second location and you’re going to start packaging your beer for wholesale. Life is good.
Along with this second location comes a lot of new overhead: more equipment, more permits and licenses, and definitely more employees.
As your business has grown, how much time you put into building your culture and training your staff has become increasingly important. You may not be in charge of hiring every single employee anymore or handling issues that arise among your staff. That may fall to a trusted general manager or (yeah right) a human resources director.
If that person makes a mistake that leads a potential candidate to feel discriminated against, the possibility of a lawsuit is very real. Especially in an industry that is very young, white, and male.
Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) is a policy that provides protection against these types of claims. Whether the claim is one for sexual harassment/assault, unfair hiring practices, wrongful discipline or termination, this policy will respond to provide reimbursement for legal costs, judgements, and settlements.
EPLI coverage is sometimes provided at lower limits attached to a Business Owners Policy, but they are typically underwritten and sold separately as a stand-alone policy.
Lastly, I want to be clear about something. This policy is not meant to be the main protection against these claims. That responsibility falls to you as the business owner. Your primary protection is to cultivate a culture among your staff of inclusivity and accountability; one that ensures that every employee is empowered to be proactive, protective, and defensive with the full support of management and ownership when compromising situations arise.
If you love craft beer and have any kind of social media account, you’ve no doubt seen the extremely disturbing, albeit not completely surprising, revelations of bad behavior in the craft beer world. Most of these claims have been made by some of the industry’s top female workers—sexual assault, discrimination, and dismissiveness of their worth.
The culture that you create at your brewery is a direct reflection of who you are as a person. If you allow people to be treated this way at your brewery, this policy will provide you with financial protection related to your liability for specific incidents. It will not, however, protect you from the backlash that your actions will bring upon your business.
Insurance Basics for the Brewery
Matt Hughes, USI
When you are planning your brewery, most of the excitement comes from planning out plant operations, designing logos and recipes, and looking for that perfect space.
It is only when you start diving into the deep cuts of your business plan that most people realize that they don’t know anything about commercial insurance. Or they make the mistake of reaching out to their personal lines agent.
Directors and Officers Liability
Matt Hughes, USI
Depending on the legal structure of your business, you may be required to have a board of directors. The responsibilities of the board can vary depending on your articles of incorporation, but the most important attribute of the board is that they have a responsibility to protect the money and assets of the organization.
The likelihood that one of the members causes physical harm to someone is very slight. If that happens, general liability policies are in place to cover those occurrences. But what if a board member makes a decision that financially damages a vendor? Or an employee?
Insurance Contract Reviews
Matt Hughes, USI
The day to day life of a brewery owner is filled with a lot of things that aren’t related to beer: dealing with payroll, fixing pumps, training new employees, tending to social media, or about a thousand other things.
So when someone asks you to sign a contract, whether that’s to bring on a mobile canner or to participate in a beer festival, many will either simply sign the document or hand it off to their attorney.