Female Attorney Employees Sue Farmers Insurance for Unequal Pay
According to an employment lawsuit against Farmers Insurance, a plaintiff receiving legal counsel from an employment lawyer in San Jose is accusing the company of engaging in pervasive and systemic discrimination against the female attorneys employed by the company. The lawsuit alleges that the wages paid to Farmer’s female attorneys are significantly lower than those paid to the company’s male employees who are performing equal work. The most recent lawsuit, Coates v. Farmers Group, Inc., et al., Case No 5:15-cv-01913 (N.D. Cal.), is part of a putative class action lawsuit filed by women attorneys nationwide who have been or who are employed by Farmers. The company, the third largest insurance provider in the country, is accused of engaging and practicing gender discrimination and offering unequal pay in exchange for equal work, an action that directly violates California’s Labor Code, as well as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Equal Pay Act. The pay rate of Plaintiff Lynne Coates, a lawyer employed by Farmers for more than five years with 22 years’ legal experience under her belt, was allegedly 50 percent less than one of her male co-workers at Farmers. According to the lawsuit, the male attorney had comparable experienced, skills, and education, but the comparison is not limited to one specific incident.
Farmers reportedly hired several younger male employees and offered them starting salaries similar to Ms. Coates’, but the plaintiff alleges that the salary of these young men eventually exceeded hers, despite the significant difference in years of experience. Ms. Coates, after having learned of the disparity in her wages compared to her co-workers, brought her concerns to Farmers, but the company allegedly refused to correct the issue. The lawsuit, filed with legal assistance provided by an employment attorney in San Jose, alleges that Farmers tolerates and promotes a “hostile environment” in which its female attorneys continue to be openly devalued, where it is the norm to experience retaliation in exchange for voicing complaints involving gender discrimination, and where employees who raise questions about the company’s actions and the norms of its practices are routinely disregarded.
Only one of Farmers Group, Inc.’s eight corporate officers is female, and of Farmers Insurance Exchange’s six officers, none is a woman. For its part, the company recognizes a lack of diversity among its employees as well as the concerns over its pay grade and encourages women to seek “opportunities for growth” within the insurance industry. However, instead of taking responsibility and acknowledging its wrongdoings in terms of the allegedly unequal and unfair working conditions for its female attorneys, Farmers argues that it has taken numerous actions to increase awareness for its female employees, informing them of what needs to be done in order to take advantage of opportunities in the company’s key leadership roles. Attorneys Lori Costanzo of the Costanzo Law Firm and Lori Andrus of Andrus Anderson LLP represent the plaintiffs.
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If you or someone you love has been subjected to employment discrimination and you would like to speak with an employment attorney in San Jose, the Costanzo Law Firm can help to inform you of your options. Call (408) 993-8493 to speak with an experienced employment lawyer in San Jose today.