Watch Your Tongue
The general aviation industry is a fun, light-hearted place to work and hang out. Hanging around the hangar or FBO (fixed base operator) lobby is great. It is just fun sharing stories with fellow pilots and flirting with the counter girls. Woops! “Flirting with the counter girls.”
Did I say flirting with the counter girls? Well, times have changed. What was acceptable a few years ago may not be quite so acceptable today. You have heard of politically correct. Today, we are also bound by socially correct behavior. “I meant nothing by it. I just complimented her build. Didn’t she know I was just joking?”
The truth is she likely did know, and her lawyer knows as well, but that does not stop a jury from seeing in their favor.
Indeed, the world is not what it used to be. Some will argue this is better. Some will say it’s worse. The truth is it is probably a little of both.
The hard facts, however, are that in today’s world, you could be sued for just being playful. The world is full of people looking to be victims and ambulance chasing lawyers that are there to support their cause.
Just for “grins” let’s say the counter girl who was the object of your affection had a spouse that had just lost his job. Money is tight, and she has a mortgage payment due. And along comes you with your playfulness. This young lady may just be inclined to turn the entire situation over to the aforementioned attorney. Well, you get the picture.
In today’s world, we must continuously watch our tongue. Whether it is what you say or how you say something every time you open your mouth, you put yourself at personal and professional risk.
Maybe you would not dream of flirting with the FBO staff. What about your professional pilot or possibly your guest? You guessed it. You can be caught up in the scenario too.
Of course, you can purchase Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI). EPLI provides coverage to employers against claims made by employees.
While EPLI will help protect you against a lawsuit by an employee, it will not typically protect you beyond the scope of your business and employees. So while an EPLI policy is recommended, it still does not remove the fact that you still need to watch your tongue.
To significantly lower your Employment Practices Liability risk, consider the following:
- Review potential loss exposures with your insurance agent and purchase adequate employment practices liability insurance.
- Develop an employee handbook detailing your company's workplace policies and procedures, including attendance, discipline, and complaints. The employee handbook should also contain an employment-at-will statement and an equal employment opportunity statement.
- Create a job description for each position that clearly defines expectations of skills and performance.
- Conduct periodic performance reviews of employees and carefully note the results in the employee's file.
- Develop a screening and hiring program to weed out unsuitable candidates on paper before calling them to interview in person.
- Use an employment application that contains an equal employment opportunity statement along with a statement, that if hired, employment will be "at-will." This means their employment can be terminated at any time, for any reason or for no reason at all, with or without notice. Also ensure that your employment application does not contain any age indicators, such as date graduated high school, as this could increase your risk for age discrimination claims.
- Conduct background checks on all possible candidates.
- Institute a zero-tolerance policy regarding discrimination, substance abuse, and any form of harassment. Make sure you have an "open door" policy in which employees can report infractions without fear of retribution.
- Create an effective record-keeping system to document employee issues as they arise and what the company did to resolve those issues.
To speak with someone who can help with insurance coverage for your airplane, helicopter, commercial drone, or other aviation asset feel free to contact us. Our qualified agents can help you shop the best rate while at the same time, making sure you get the best coverage possible for your insurance needs.
You can reach us through our contact form here or by phone toll free at: (800) 999-1109.