In March 2009, unemployment in the US had risen to 8.5%, reaching its highest level since 1983. During times of economic downturn, when people are losing their jobs, the frequency of employment practices liability claims always rises, and it appeal's to be happening today. For small firms and mid-sized firms in particular this is a first-time exposure, and employees are beginning to seek higher damage awards. One in five smaller firms will have an EPLI lawsuit this year. In that capacity, Catherine Padalino, the worldwide employment practices liability manager for the Chubb Group of Insurance Cos, recommends that smaller and mid-sized firms consider some critical steps when planning staff reductions. These steps are: 1. Evaluate the overall anticipated impact of the layoff, including the potential for litigation as well as public scrutiny. 2. Review the demographics of the staff that will be laid off to eliminate any appearance of discrimination. 3. Use outside counsel to evaluate employment practices and severance policies.