Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield was recently hit with a lawsuit over racial discrimination allegations.
Earlier this month, three longtime employees working for Wellmark decided to sue the company over allegations of racial discrimination. The suit was filed on behalf of Janice Lintz, Tylonda Mason, and David Tindrell. Between the three of them, they have a combined 88-years with Wellmark. The suit, which was filed in Polk County District Court, argues “African Americans have been systematically denigrated and harassed, denied training opportunities and mentorship given to Caucasian employees, been excluded from promotions, subjected to higher and more subjective standards than other employees in all aspects of employment, and required to meet more onerous criteria than their coworkers.”
Lintz chimed in and said, “I have seen over the course throughout my employment, discriminatory practices. Whether it’s unconscious or conscious, it does happen and it exists in the company and it’s frustrating.” Lintz began working at Wellmark back in 1981. “We think they’re a wonderful company. They do a lot of good things right. However, in this area, there needs to be focus, attention, and correction,” said Tindrell. Lintz added, “The performance reviews, the promotions, the mentoring, the succession planning — we get a lot of things right — but we’re failing there.” Lintz said that of the “230 management positions at Wellmark, only five are held by African Americans.”
When asked about the matter, Mason said, “I’m good at my job by peers and customers. But the recognition and job opportunity advancement seem to go to the Caucasian peers that I have.”
Roxanne Conlin, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, chimed in and said:
“It takes a lot of courage to sue your employer when you’re working there. They’re all working there and they hope to continue working there and they all love their jobs. What they don’t love is being treated differently.”
Wellmark has so far pushed back against the lawsuit. Traci McBee, a senior public relations manager at Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, issued the following statement:
“Based on Wellmark’s investigation of the allegations of the lawsuit, they are unfounded and without merit. We look forward to the opportunity to fully vindicate ourselves against these claims. Wellmark has a long-standing history and commitment to supporting and celebrating diversity and inclusion. In fact, Wellmark received a 100 percent score from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2020 Corporate Equality Index.”
McBee added that Wellmark’s inclusive culture has been recognized by several other respected publications, including the following:
Profiles in Diversity Journal Diversity Team Award 2020, Diverseability Magazine Best of the Best 2020, Black EOE Journal Best of the Best 2019, Professional Woman’s Magazine Best of the Best 2019, U.S. Veterans’ Magazine Best of the Best 2019, Hispanic Network Best of the Best 2019.
Wellmark employees sue, alleging racial discrimination; seek up to $5 million