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Insurer settles race, gender discrimination suit for $20 million

Jackson National Life Insurance Co. has made big changes to its corporate structure in recent years. Like so many other businesses, it has closed offices - including one here in Wisconsin - to reduce payroll and overhead in order to stay competitive. According to settlement terms of a race, sex and national origin discrimination and retaliation lawsuit, the company has more big changes to make.

Jackson National Life has agreed to pay $20.5 million to 21 former employees who charged that the company allowed work environments hostile to African Americans and women in two of its offices. The lawsuit alleged that African American employees were berated as "lazy" and were targeted in racially offensive drawings. A high-level manager referred to female African American employees as "street walkers." Women were also subjected to leering and sexual comments from male co-workers, the lawsuit claimed.

Court documents also state that the company discriminated against female and African American employees by paying them less and routinely passing them over for promotions in favor of white, male employees who were less qualified.

The company was also accused of retaliating against workers who filed discrimination complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Jackson Life also apparently fired a vice president who refused to give negative evaluations and warnings to two female African American employees who complained about the hostile work environment.

In addition to the millions Jackson National Life will pay its former employees in damages, attorneys fees and costs, it has agreed to take steps to ensure that there won't be future violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It has agreed to train its employees on discrimination, retaliation and harassment, and rate its managers and supervisors on compliance with government policies and laws prohibiting race and gender discrimination and retaliation.

If you have endured discrimination based on gender, national origin or race in a Milwaukee workplace, contact the law offices of Alan C. Olson and Associates to discuss your legal options.

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