Judge approves MetLife’s $32.5 million race bias class action settlement

Lawyers get a huge chunk of cash in proposed action that claimed black staff received worse opportunities than other employees

Judge approves MetLife’s $32.5 million race bias class action settlement

Insurance News


A U.S. District Court has approved the $32.5 million settlement of a racial discrimination case against MetLife filed by a class of African-American former MetLife financial services representatives.

Judge William Pauley III of the Southern District of New York approved the settlement last week, after finding that the agreement is “fair, reasonable, adequate, and well within the range of final approval.”

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The former employees filed the case against the insurer in 2015. They accused the firm of maintaining “a racially biased corporate culture and stereotypical views about the skills, abilities, and potential of African Americans that affect personnel,” a court docket said.

Marcus Creighton, the chief plaintiff, said MetLife denied him advancement opportunities, even though he was a “successful, experienced FSR and well-qualified to join management,” the document added.

According to the docket, MetLife’s “discriminatory” management assessments, training, and selection practices “systematically and disproportionately” excluded African Americans from branch management and most management-feeder positions. It added that non-African Americans in similar situations – including those who never expressed interest in management – were selected for management opportunities, management training, management feeder positions, and were assigned to manage the firm’s offices.

The terms order that $7.15 million of the settlement will be paid to class counsel Stowell & Friedman, while the remaining $25.35 million will go to the class members.

MetLife denied and continues to deny all of the allegations and claims asserted, according to the settlement agreement.

“At MetLife, we are committed to promoting a diverse and inclusive workplace and do not condone discrimination,” Kim Friedman, a company spokesperson, said in a July 06 email to Bloomberg BNA. “We are pleased that our effort to work together with some of our former Financial Services Representatives to find a resolution was successful.”

About 690 former employees are expected to receive funds from the settlement, and they will be able to choose between two different payment methods, Bloomberg Law reported. On one hand, they can opt to be paid based on their years in the industry, and their time spent with MetLife or its subsidiary, New England Life Insurance. Alternatively, they can opt for a longer process that considers the supposed discrimination an ex-employee faced personally and how it may have harmed his or her career or reputation.

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