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Employment Practices Liability Insurance For Spas

Traditional liability insurance does not offer protection against discrimination and harassment suits. Separate coverage known as Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) will provide the protection you need for both the cost to defend these claims as well as to pay potential judgments or settlements.

You need EPLI coverage and this is why::

  1. A spa staff member reports to a supervisor that while on a day off, she was taken advantage of by another staff member. She does not want to involve the police but says that she does not feel safe around the perpetrator. After an investigation, you are not sure what happened, but decide to terminate the alleged perpetrator. He threatens to sue for wrongful termination. The victim says if you don’t fire him, she will make a claim for sexual harassment/hostile workplace.
  2. A long-term senior spa staff member is no longer functioning at an acceptable level and you inform her that she is being relieved of her duties. One week later, you receive a letter from her lawyer claiming age and sex discrimination, as well as breach of contract.
  3. An experienced massage therapist is hired by a resort. After a few months, she fails to receive the benefits she believes were promised to her. After a few more months, she was terminated for recurring tardiness and several unpleasant interactions with clients. She claimed she was wrongfully terminated and the resort had breached an implied contract and sought to recover benefits, punitive damages, and fees.

The average settlement for a discrimination claim is forty thousand dollars, with ten percent of claims resulting in awards of $1 million or more. Even if you are ultimately exonerated, legal fees to defend such cases average $125,000. Sexual harassment settlements averaged $20,000 in 2014 and are steadily on the rise, as are the number of claims filed. Anti-discrimination/harassment laws almost always provide that in the event of a successful claim, the employer is also responsible for the employee’s legal fees.

Ask AMSkier to help you make sure you have the coverage you need. Contact Gretchen Ruddy ( for more information.

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Taking Home Inventory

Taking Home InventoryIt’s still a new year, and it’s time to get into good habits. For this year, resolve to have your home inventory properly documented. Doing so is incredibly important for insurances purposes. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners says that 59 percent of Americans do not have a list of their possessions.
In the case of a claim due to burglary, natural disaster or otherwise, insurance adjusters will require you to list all the things you lost. You can do it room-by-room, which is probably the most efficient, or category-by-category, starting with big-ticket items. For each item, you should include a short description, quantity, value, condition, location in the house and if possible, attach a purchase receipt. This is a time-consuming process, so will likely need a few evenings or a weekend to complete the inventory. The documentation can be completed several ways.
Spreadsheets are helpful for naming each item, listing its price, purchase date, and the brand name. You may categorize by general categories such as jewelry, electronics, collectibles, etc. Supplement with photographs for the big items on your spreadsheet too. Photographs help prove that you own what you claim and are important for items like books, and small miscellaneous items. It’s also a good idea to do a video walkthrough of the rooms in your home to get a visual on the layout.
To make the inventory process easier, consider researching the variety of apps that automate part of this job.
As always, we welcome our clients and friends to reach out to us with questions and requests for advice on how to prepare their home inventory.

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Preventing Inappropriate Workplace Behavior

Preventing Inappropriate Workplace BehaviorBy Norman E. Friedman, M. ED., AMSkier Partner

As my colleague Fran Mendelowitz, LCSW founder of InterAct NY & AMSkier Partner, wrote recently, sexual misconduct at several major television networks, public radio, Congress, Hollywood, and the White House demands our attention as we continually re-staff our businesses and move into a new year.
One of the guiding principles of AMSkier is to educate our clients and friends on critical issues like inappropriate workplace behavior and to be available to assist you to address them. To begin the process of education and prevention we offer some suggestions.

What Constitutes Sexual Harassment
Staff need to be clear about what constitutes inappropriate workplace behavior and that it will not be tolerated:

  • Sexual pranks, or repeated sexual teasing, jokes, or innuendo, in person or via e-mail;
  • Verbal abuse of a sexual nature;
  • Touching or grabbing of a sexual nature;
  • Repeatedly standing too close to or brushing up against a person;
  • Repeatedly asking a person to socialize during off-duty hours when the person has said no or has indicated he or she is not interested;
  • Giving gifts or leaving objects that are sexually suggestive;
  • Repeatedly making sexually suggestive gestures; and
  • Making or posting sexually demeaning or offensive pictures, cartoons or other materials.

Victims and Harassers
To be clear about what constitutes both a victim and harasser, note the following:

  • A victim of sexual harassment can be a man or a woman.
  • The victim can be of the same sex as the harasser.
  • The harasser can be a supervisor, co-worker, or a non-employee.
  • The harasser can be a person who has a business relationship with you and your business.

Immediate Action
If an allegation of inappropriate workplace behavior is brought to your attention, you should note the following:

  • You are committed to immediately respond to anyone at the workplace who experiences sexual harassment or observes it.
  • You are knowledgeable of the reporting requirements and procedures of this state.
  • Investigations of any allegation will be thorough and impartial and will be assigned to staff who have received special training.
  • You will take immediate corrective action if it is determined that sexual harassment has taken place.

The inclusion of these guidelines are suggested for your staff manuals, staff posters and employment applications. We will continue to update you and provide guidance and updates as we continue forward together.

As always, we remain available for our clients 24/7. We at AMSkier Insurance wish you and those you love a wonderful holiday and a safe and peaceful New Year.

Are you interested in beginning a relationship with AMSkier Insurance? Contact us today!


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ADA Compliance – Six Steps For Your Spa

Is your spa compliant with the ada?ADA Compliance - Six Steps For Your Spa

Is your spa compliant with the ADA? Our laws and our culture recognize the dignity of those with physical, developmental and intellectual challenges, and their right to be free from unlawful discrimination. But as the definition of “disability” continues to expand, employers often must make difficult decisions about protecting their customers and their business without running afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The key language is: can the individual perform the essential functions of the job with or without “a reasonable accommodation that does not fundamentally alter the nature of the goods and services provided, or create an undue risk to the individual or others?” If not, then the law allows an employer to “discriminate” by not hiring that person. In determining what is “reasonable,” cost may be taken into consideration, as well as the job in question, industry and physical layout of your facility.

While ultimately the final decision always rests with the employer, by adhering to the following six steps, spa owners can significantly increase their chances of complying with the ADA as well as properly defending themselves if they are ever accused of an ADA violation:

  1. While it is clearly UNLAWFUL to ask a prospective employee about a disability, once a conditional offer is made, an employer can ask the key question: “Is there anything that would prevent you from performing the essential functions of the job with or without a reasonable accommodation?”
  2. If the answer is no, there can be no further inquiry unless there is an obvious situation (a silly example would be a person hired to lead nature hikes who uses a wheelchair). Once you are made aware of the disability, if you have any concerns about the employee’s ability to function with or without an accommodation, you are free to discuss the issue directly with the individual. There is no need to beat around the bush. The key is to phrase all questions in terms of your desire to make a reasonable accommodation and to treat each person individually. Statements such as “we don’t hire people with epilepsy” are a big no-no and will get you in trouble every time.
  3. If after this conversation you have any concerns, you can insist on speaking with the employee’s health care provider. To do so, the person must give permission to the provider in the form of a written release. If the person refuses to do this, the inquiry is over, and you can refuse to accept the person on the grounds that he/she is refusing to allow you access to the information you need to comply with the law.
  4. When speaking with the health care provider (if you have an in-house medical staff you should include them in the conversation), be careful not to ask questions such as, “Doctor, do you believe this person can fulfill the requirements of the job?” The reason is simple. First, the doctor will almost never disagree with his patient and 99.9% of the time will give his/her stamp of approval. Second, when it comes to your facility, it is you – not the doctor – who is the expert and who has the final say, and just how a doctor would not ask you a medical question, you should not ask a doctor’s opinion about running a spa. As we know, each business is unique and no one knows it better than you do, and in the end, asking the doctor to decide the ultimate question will provide little guidance while getting you in trouble if you disagree with his/her assessment. Instead of delegating the decision to the doctor, talk about your concerns, and ask questions directed to the job functions, programs, schedules and facilities of your particular spa. Once armed with the answers, you are ready for the next step.
  5. Discuss any remaining concerns with the employee. What accommodations are you able to make? Or are you unable to make any that are reasonable? Always phrase the discussion in terms of your desire to make this work, if possible, and in terms of the safety of the staff member, his/her co-workers, and your customers. If you agree with an accommodation, make the plan as specific as possible. There is nothing wrong with a “trial period” to see if the plan will work, if it needs adjustments, or if the experiment has failed.
  6. It is essential that all discussions, whether with a healthcare or employee, focus on the person. In other words, avoid stereotypes. The main thrust of the ADA is that each employee must be treated as an individual rather than as a member of a group.

ADA-related decisions are often difficult. They must balance your personal desire to provide opportunities to individuals with disabilities along with your need to provide a safe environment for customers and staff. By following these steps, you will help shield yourself from a discrimination claim. More importantly, you will likely garner the information you need to make good decisions.

Are you an AMSkier client? If so, I am always available to shepherd you through ADA issues from start to finish. Clients faced with a specific question, or who need step-by-guidance, please call me at (570) 226-4571.

Alan Cooper, Esquire, AMSkier General Counsel, Claims Director

Are you interested in learning what a partnership with AMSkier can do for your spa? Please, contact us below.

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