$20.5 Million Settlement Resolves EEOC Discrimination Lawsuit Against Life Insurance Co.

Author: David B. Weisenfeld, XpertHR Legal Editor

January 24, 2020

The Jackson National Life Insurance Company and its subsidiaries will pay $20.5 million to settle claims brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for race, national origin and sex discrimination, as well as retaliation. The settlement marks the largest monetary agreement ever reached by the EEOC's Denver and Phoenix field offices.

The EEOC brought the lawsuit on behalf of 21 former employees who accused Jackson of tolerating a hostile work environment for female and black employees at its Denver and Nashville offices, including:

  • Managers referring to black employees as "lazy";
  • Supervisors subjecting them to racially demeaning cartoons;
  • A high-level manager calling multiple black female employees "resident street walkers"; and
  • At least one high-level manager kissing female subordinates on their lips.

The EEOC also claimed that the company discriminated in its pay and promotion decisions based on race and gender by favoring white employees. The retaliation allegations included a white vice president's claim that Jackson fired her after she refused to give a negative evaluation or disciplinary warning to two black female employees who had complained.

The settlement includes a four-year consent decree that requires Jackson to:

  • Designate an internal compliance monitor;
  • Retain an outside consultant to review its EEO policies, promotion and pay practices, plus monitor future discrimination complaints;
  • Train employees on discrimination, harassment and retaliation; and
  • Rate managers and supervisors on their compliance.

A federal judge in Denver has approved the settlement.