Agents sue Farmers Insurance over age discrimination

Former agents also claim that the insurer had falsely classified agents as independent contractors

Agents sue Farmers Insurance over age discrimination

Insurance News

By Lyle Adriano

Eighteen (18) former agents of Farmers Insurance from throughout California have filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming that their former employer discriminated against them based on their age.

The complaint filed by the ex-agents additionally alleges that Farmers falsely labeled its agents as “independent contractors” despite the company controlling “nearly every aspect of their employment,” a statement from law firm Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer read.

A release from the law firm, which is handling the plaintiffs’ case, contained statements from the former agents themselves, who describe the allegedly unfair practices of Farmers.

“I joined Farmers Insurance because I was told I could build my client base, benefit from residual renewals and continue until I choose to retire. That was all a sham,” said Chuck Nielsen, a former Farmers agent based in San Jose, CA, who is one of the plaintiffs. “Because of my age alone, I was forced to give up my extensive book of business and was shut out after 35+ years as a top regional Farmers agent.”

“Out of nowhere I am notified that I am no longer meeting goals imposed on me by Farmers and that my 30+ year established book of clients is going to be moved to a younger agent and that my clients will be told that I retired. I have spent over 30+ years building my book of business as a top-notch Farmers Insurance agent,” said another former agent and plaintiff, Thomas Mortensen of Concord, CA.

“I could see that all the ‘seasoned’ agents were being sent termination notices and across the board being told that our book of clients were going to be given to younger agents,” remarked James Melin, a plaintiff and a former Farmers agent who served for 12 years.

“Our clients were sold a bill of goods by Farmers,” said J. Gary Gwilliam, Esq, founding partner of Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer and attorney of the plaintiffs.

“Farmers told our clients that they would own their own agencies; that they could work as long as they liked and that they could create ‘generational’ wealth. But it was all a lie. Instead, they wrongfully terminated them without any good cause.”

“Farmers only called our clients ‘independent contractors’ for tax and legal reasons. In fact, Farmers micromanaged our clients then terminated them for failing to meet unspecified ‘business results’,” added Robert J. Schwartz, Esq. of Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso Cavalli & Brewer.

“In a cruel and calculated way, Farmers then reassigned the plaintiff’s books of customers to younger Farmers agents. This is clearly age discrimination,” Schwartz added.

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