London Attacks and Hurricane Dennis Illustrate Employers' Need to Focus on Disaster Preparedness and Safety, Says Littler Mendelson

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (July 13, 2005) -- Coverage of the London terrorist attack and Hurricane Dennis' Gulf Coast assault should serve as graphic reminders for businesses to revisit their corporate preparedness plans. An organization failing to take reasonable steps to prepare for everything from a terrorist attack to a natural disaster will not only suffer greater immediate physical and financial impact from the event but also may be liable for losses incurred by employees, surviving relatives and investors, according to Littler Mendelson, the nation's largest employment and labor law firm.

"The latest attack in London is a stark reminder the vast majority of American corporations are woefully unprepared, a point noted in the 9/11 Commission's final report," said Terri M. Solomon, a shareholder in Littler Mendelson's New York office. "This catastrophe may finally prompt companies to become compliant with the NFPA 1600 Standard."

NFPA 1600 is the National Fire Protection Association Standard on Disaster Management and Business Continuity Programs. Available at, it contains a roadmap for developing emergency preparedness plans. The 9/11 Commission - citing a Homeland Security report that 85 percent of the country's vital infrastructure is privately held - adopted NFPA 1600 as the country's National Preparedness Standard. The U.S. Congress and other government agencies have endorsed this voluntary standard for private-sector businesses.

The 9/11 Commission also made NFPA 1600 the recommended legal standard of care a company owes its employees and the public. According to Littler attorneys, companies who don't comply with NFPA 1600 are at risk for being sued.

"We are starting to see more cases where companies are successfully sued for not planning for disasters and other potential threats," Solomon added. "An analogy would be a school failing to conduct fire drills."

Sound business preparedness and recovery plans protect both corporate and employee interests, and should address:

  • Historical threats, such as natural disasters, and possible acts of terrorism
  • Infrastructure disruption, including transportation, power, sanitation and distribution
  • Accommodation of staff - on- or off-site - for up to 72 hours without outside assistance
  • Reunification plans for employees' families
  • Communications with employees, customers, suppliers and safety agencies
  • Security of operations during and following the disruption and possible security measures for employees' homes
  • Distribution of cash to employees when banks and ATMs are unavailable and credit cards cannot be processed.

Preparedness is the key. A successful plan pays equal attention to the triumvirate: protecting employees, revenue and physical assets. Ultimately, Solomon noted, "The better prepared people are at home, the faster they will return to work."

About Littler Mendelson

With more than 400 attorneys and 28 offices in major metropolitan areas nationwide, Littler Mendelson is the largest law firm in the United States devoted exclusively to representing management in employment, employee benefits and labor law matters. The firm's client base ranges from Fortune 500 companies to small-business owners. Established in 1942, the firm has litigated, mediated and negotiated some of the most influential cases and labor contracts in the nation's history. Its affiliated global migration practice, Littler Global, provides support to major companies in moving employees around the world. For more information, visit