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Denver insurance company to pay $20.5 million after black and female employees complained of … – jj

Denver insurance company to pay $20.5 million after black and female employees complained of …


An insurance company will pay $20.5 million to settle claims that it discriminated against its black and female employees in Denver and Nashville in the largest such agreement ever reached in the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Denver and Phoenix office.

Black employees at Jackson National Life Insurance were passed over for promotions and paid less than their white colleagues, according to the complaint filed by the EEOC, and they endured a hostile work environment that included sexual harassment, racially demeaning cartoons, being called “lazy” and “resident street walkers,” among other slurs.

Employees made clicking noises around one man of Ethiopian descent, according to the complaint. One manager repeatedly made comments about employees’ breasts, and another told a black woman to get on her knees at a company party while holding a bottle of vodka horizontally, according to the complaint.

Jackson National Life Insurance also retaliated against those who spoke up against the abuse, according to the EEOC complaint, and the company fired a white vice president the day after he refused to give a negative evaluation to two black employees who had complained.

The company is now under a four-year consent decree, court records show, and must pay $20.5 million in attorney fees, damages and costs. About $15 million will go to the 21 claimants, and $5 million will go to attorney fees and costs, the EEOC said. A news release about the settlement said it was the largest of its kind.

“I hope it sends a message to the whole financial industry,” said EEOC regional attorney Mary Jo O’Neill. “This is an industry where there are very well paying jobs and it’s long been the domain of white males. We hope this sends a message to the financial industry to take discrimination against people of color and women seriously.”

A consent decree is one way to settle a lawsuit that all parties agree to. It sets conditions that are enforceable by the courts.

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