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Metlife Has Agreed to $32.5 Million Payout for Racial Discrimination

— March 6, 2017

Metlife has agreed to pay $32.5 million to more than 600 financial service representatives, past and present, in a racial discrimination lawsuit.

Metlife Life Insurance Company allegedly paid its African American workers less than their Caucasian counterparts.  The company has agreed to pay $32.5 million to more than 600 financial service representatives, past and present, in a racial discrimination lawsuit. These individuals were also offered less valuable accounts and given fewer promotion opportunities than white workers.  Metlife, represented by Proskauer Rose, will pay the 2015 lawsuit settlement, according to a filing in federal court in Manhattan, New York, on Wednesday.

Image Courtesy of Key Media

This is by far not the first time the insurance company has been in court due to allegations of discrimination.  The company has undergone years of discrimination class actions for age, race and gender discrepancies.  The latest lawsuit comes fifteen years after Metlife was in court defending its position against another racial discrimination class action lawsuit claiming the company charged African American policy holders higher premiums than Caucasian policy holders between the years of 1880 and 1970.

Prior to this lawsuit, back in 2000, the insurance provider was in court with allegations the company had a “glass ceiling” for its female sales representatives and managers.  In this lawsuit, Metlife was also accused of offering fewer resources to its female employees, such as training and mentoring, than their male counterparts.  Eventually, Metlife agreed to settle the case, and $5 million was paid out to the plaintiffs and class, with an additional $5 million put into programs, training and other resources specifically designed to increase the number of female employees.

Image Courtesy of Hold the Child

In December 2015, the company took heat for an age discrimination lawsuit as well when a Florida employee, Robert Liebman, claimed he was fired from his position after 27 years with Metlife because of his age and subsequently replaced with someone younger.  The case was eventually dismissed when the judge agreed with Metlife, considering the employee’s replacement was 42 years old and also part of the 40 and over protected class. Turns out, Liebman’s position was eliminated and he was offered three weeks to interview for another job.  When he did not get that position, he was terminated.  Liebman lost approximately $90,000 per year in pension benefits for having been eliminated before age 55.

Metlife is also currently facing a $50 million amended lawsuit in the U.S. District Court on behalf of the claims of two employees, Debra Julian and Stephanie McKinney.  The two women allege they worked for the insurer on long term disability insurance claims as Claim Specialists.  They regularly worked between 45 and 60 hours per week, but haven’t received overtime compensation since November 2013.  At this time, the plaintiffs state the company mis-classified them as exempt, salaried employees who were unable to receive overtime pay, although they remained hourly employees.  The women filed separately, but their cases were consolidated into one in the amended suit in order to more easily pursue the funds owed to them.

“The Amended Complaint alleges MetLife misclassified LTD Claim Specialists in all of its offices,” explained Andrew Melzer, Co-Chair of Sanford Heisler’s Wage & Hour Practice. “This misclassification affected employees in New York, in Connecticut, and in other states, including Illinois. We are seeking nationwide relief for these current and former MetLife employees.”


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