Farmers Insurance Sued by EEOC for Race Bias Discrimination

By Peter Levine posted in Discrimination, Employment Law, Law on November 8th, 2013

The EEOC Has Sued Farmers Insurance in the Firing of  Asian-American Claims Representatives

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has charged in a lawsuit that Farmers Insurance Exchange violated federal law when it fired two Southeast Asian-American employees because of their race, and then unlawfully fired a third non-Asian employee in retaliation for his participation in the EEOC’s investigation.

Two of the employees are of Hmong descent and were the only Asian-American employees working at the insurance company’s Fresno office during the time of their termination during March 2009.  Allegedly, a supervisor had instructed staff to code insurance payments in a manner as to avoid the automated prompting of customer surveys.

A 2009 audit revealed that several of the claims representatives in the office had instances of improper coding.  However, the EEOC’s lawsuit contends that only the Asian-American claims representatives were targeted for termination. In fact, a Caucasian claims adjuster had a similar number of cases coded, but was not terminated in March 2009. However, he was placed on leave a week after he was interviewed by the EEOC and provided testimony during investigation into the discrimination charges.

Race Discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act

Race discrimination and retaliation for complaining about it violate the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The EEOC’s suit seeks back pay, compensatory, and punitive damages for the alleged victims.

“Generally, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders seldom come forward to report discrimination,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC.  “The EEOC is here to help victims of illegal discrimination and to ensure that employers treat workers equally. Our hope is that more will find the courage to come forward to break the cycle of discrimination at work.”

Melissa Barrios, local director at the EEOC’s Fresno Office, added that “Federal law protects employees who participate in investigations or proceedings involving employment discrimination from retaliation.  Workers have the right to provide testimony or protest discrimination without negative employment consequences.”

Peter K. Levine
A Professional Law Corporation

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