A Denver insurance company will be paying $20.5 million to black and female employees who filed complaints of racial and sexual discrimination, according to The Denver Post.
Black employees at Jackson National Life Insurance in Denver were passed over for promotions and were also paid less than their white colleagues, according to the complaint filed by the EEOC. The complainants also said they endured a hostile work environment that included sexual harassment, having to be subjected to racially demeaning cartoons, and being called lazy, among other hurtful slurs.
Based on these accusations, Jackson National Life Insurance will now pay $20.5 million to settle claims that it discriminated against its black and female employees in its Denver and Nashville offices. It is the largest such agreement reached in the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Denver and Phoenix office.
“I hope it sends a message to the whole financial industry,” EEOC regional attorney Mary Jo O’Neill tells The Denver Post. “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 spokesman for Jackson National Life Insurance told the paper that the company agreed to settle the lawsuit in order to “move forward.” The company, a subsidiary of the United Kingdom-based Prudential plc, has 4,000 people in its employ nationally and reported $257 million in assets in 2018.
“While there has been no finding by a court or jury that Jackson violated any laws, we are humbled and recognize that the associates who made claims in this case believe they were not treated fairly or in a way that aligns with Jackson’s core values,” spokesman Patrick Rich said. “This is concerning to us, as it is not consistent with who we strive to be.”
The company is 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 complainants and $5 million will go toward attorney fees and costs associated with the case, the EEOC said.