NEA's $1 million Educator Liability Insurance
Steve Pieroni, WEAC Attorney, August, 2011
The District's liability coverageRemember, under the district liability coverage, the district is the insured, not theemployee. The District's legal counsel will represent the district and an employee if there is no conflict of interest between the legal representation of the district and theemployee.But what happens if the district decides to settle a case and it is not in the best interestof the employee or if the district agrees that the employee acted contrary to theemployer's direction?2) State statute on liability of public employeesThe answer to the above question is found in state statute. The key phrase here is"acts committed while carrying out duties as an officer or employee and the jury orthe court finds that the defendant was acting within the scope of employment"The term "within the scope of employment" may have different meaning to anemployer and an employee. The employer may say that the employee was not actingwithin the scope of his or her employment but the employee believes he/she actedwithin the scope of his/her employment. Resolution of this difference of opinion willdirectly affect whether the member receives coverage and by whom the employeewill be represented.In addition, the District may take disciplinary action against the employee/memberfor alleged conduct that is disputed by the employee. In these circumstances theemployer may refuse to defend the employee's actions.If the district and its insurer assert that the employee's actions were outside the scopeof his/her employment, the member may not be covered by the District's liabilitycoverage or may be required to have different legal representation paid by theemployer. Without a quality liability insurance program through Associationmembership, the employee could be left defending him/herself or have to accept legalrepresentation provided by someone who has previously disavowed the employee'sconduct.