Wrongful Termination Due to Cybersecurity Incidents: Employer Liability and Employee Rights

Protecting Employee Rights: Understanding Wrongful Termination Stemming from Cybersecurity Incidents. Get Informed and Take Action.
Wrongful Termination Due to Cybersecurity Incidents: Employer Liability and Employee Rights


In the age of digital connectivity, there is hardly any organization that is immune to cyber threats. Often, the first response when a business faces a data breach or similar incident is to terminate any employees potentially involved. However, wrongful termination in these situations can have serious legal and financial consequences for employers. Understanding liability and protecting employee rights is crucial.

The Growing Threat of Cyber Attacks

Cybersecurity threats are the number one concern for businesses worldwide, surpassing even COVID-19. A recent study suggests that cyber perils worry companies the most in 2022. The constant threat of ransomware, data breaches, and IT system failures looms large.

While enterprises grab headlines, small and medium businesses are prime targets, representing 43% of attacked companies. However, only 14% are prepared to defend themselves, says Accenture. The healthcare sector also faces unique challenges, with 70% of organizations reporting cyber incidents have increased hospital stays and patient mortality. And with 5,200 monthly attacks on average, even IoT devices present emerging risks.

Regardless of the company size, all businesses are under the threat of cyber attacks these days. Here is a chart representing the cyber attack rates in all business sizes.

The Growing Threat of Cyber Attacks

Employment Practices Liability Insurance: Vital Protection

In today's interconnected business landscape, having comprehensive employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) is more critical than ever. EPLI provides protection against a wide range of employee claims that can arise even from justified terminations. Key coverages include:

  • Wrongful Termination: Safeguards employers against wrongful discharge claims and associated legal expenses if an employee alleges improper firing. This is one of the most common claims.
  • Discrimination: Provides coverage for legal costs if an employee files a discrimination claim related to things like age, gender, race, disability status, or religious beliefs.
  • Sexual Harassment: Offers protection against claims of workplace harassment, including legal defense costs and settlement expenses. Coverage often extends to third-party claims as well.
  • Retaliation: Defends employers against allegations of retaliation, such as if an employee is fired for whistleblowing activity or taking medical leave.
  • Failure to Promote: Covers claims that an employee was unlawfully denied a promotion.
  • Defamation: Provides coverage in case an employee alleges damage to reputation due to wrongful termination or another employment-related defamatory statement.
  • Invasion of Privacy: Offers protection if claims arise regarding invasion of privacy, such as investigating an employee's background without consent.

For employers, EPLI is crucial insurance that reduces risk exposure from disgruntled former employees who pursue legal action, regardless of the validity of their claims. It protects the company's finances and reputation.

Cyber Liability Insurance: Securing Your Business

While employment practices liability insurance covers personnel claims, targeted cyber liability insurance is equally important for defending against data and security incidents. It protects against costs related to:

  • Data Breaches: Provides coverage for legal investigations, notification expenses, call center costs, credit monitoring services, and PR crisis management fees if customer or employee data is compromised.
  • Network Security Breaches: Offers protection against claims of negligently allowing a computer system breach that compromised private data. Can cover legal fees, court judgments, and settlement costs.
  • Cyber Extortion: Defends against ransomware attacks and covers costs related to investigating threats, negotiating with attackers, and paying ransoms in some cases.
  • Reputational Harm: Provides coverage for PR expenses and lost income due to reputational damage after a breach.
  • Electronic Data Loss: Offers protection if a system outage leads to loss of data and impacts business income.
  • Cyber Crime: Covers a range of cybercrime exposures like email spoofing, social engineering, and phishing scams.

For today's digitally connected businesses, cyber liability insurance is a must-have that can mitigate the financial damage of inevitable cyber-attacks and data exposures. Combining it with EPLI provides comprehensive protection against employee and data incident claims that can quickly spiral out of control.

Wrongful Termination Risks in Cybersecurity Events

When businesses experience system breaches, sensitive data theft, or related cyber episodes, terminations often follow as they look to hold individuals accountable. However, hasty firing decisions heighten legal risks.

Wrongfully terminating employees based on unproven assumptions of responsibility for cyber incidents leads to claims like:

  • Discrimination: If firings target specific demographics unfairly.
  • Defamation: If the reasoning for termination harms the reputation.
  • Whistleblower Retaliation: If fired for reporting cybersecurity flaws.

Costs of $100k or more in legal fees and damages per wrongful termination claim are common. With cyberattacks on the rise, employers must avoid knee-jerk firings.

If you are an employer in Los Angeles dealing with potential wrongful termination issues, it is advisable to consult an experienced attorney to ensure you avoid legal pitfalls. Connecting with a knowledgeable wrongful termination attorney Los Angeles can help guide you through proper protocols and protect your rights. There are such expert advisors in all parts of the world who can make all the difference in high-stakes situations involving employee dismissals.

Best Practices for Employers

When addressing cyber incidents, businesses should:

  • Conduct thorough, impartial investigations before any termination.
  • Provide employees written notice of the reason for the firing.
  • Have clear policies on cybersecurity responsibilities.
  • Document performance issues related to cybersecurity roles.
  • Consult legal counsel to ensure terminations are lawful.

Following protocols protects businesses against wrongful termination liabilities while still holding employees accountable for negligence.

Having comprehensive EPLI and cyber liability insurance also defends against claims. But most importantly, avoid firing without cause.

Key Takeaways

As cybersecurity threats continue to rise, both employment practices liability and cyber liability insurance have become absolutely vital protections for employers. Wrongful terminations often follow cyber incidents, heightening legal risks if proper protocols are not followed.

Employers must avoid rash firing decisions and instead conduct thorough investigations with documentation to ensure informed and lawful terminations. Even with best practices, comprehensive insurance remains an essential last line of defense as cyberattacks proliferate. By implementing both insurance coverage and clear termination procedures, employers can mitigate risks from potential wrongful termination claims. Cyber-related dismissals require prudence and care to avoid costly legal pitfalls. With diligence, employers can make termination decisions that are both justified and lawful in our increasingly digital landscape.


1. What risks do employers face from wrongful termination claims?

Potentially substantial legal costs, fines, and reputational damage, especially if discrimination or defamation claims arise. Average costs often exceed $100k per wrongful termination case.

2. What types of insurance help protect employers from cyber incident claims?

Employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) and cyber liability insurance covering data breaches, system outages, cyber extortion, etc.

3. How can employers avoid wrongful termination during cybersecurity events?

By conducting thorough investigations, providing documentation, following protocols, consulting legal counsel, and avoiding reflexive firing before determining the cause.


Anjan kant

Outstanding journey in Microsoft Technologies (ASP.Net, C#, SQL Programming, WPF, Silverlight, WCF etc.), client side technologies AngularJS, KnockoutJS, Javascript, Ajax Calls, Json and Hybrid apps etc. I love to devote free time in writing, blogging, social networking and adventurous life

Post A Comment: