Ten current and former female employees of Chicago-based Combined Insurance Company of America have filed a nationwide class action lawsuit in federal court alleging a pattern or practice of sex harassment and sex discrimination.
In a report from PRNewswire, the complaint alleges that Combined Insurance condones and encourages a culture of sex harassment and oppression, according to the law firms representing the plaintiffs — Meites, Mulder, Burger & Mollica of Chicago and Benassi & Benassi of Peoria, Ill. The women claim they suffered different forms of harassment.
Combined management is accused of tolerating and taking part in the harassment. Combined allegedly retaliated against women who spoke up about the harassment, either by further harassing them or forcing them to leave the company.
The complaint also alleges that Combined discriminates against women in hiring, pay and promotions. Plaintiffs allege that male managers judged female job applicants by their appearance and body type. Male managers also allegedly use demeaning physical descriptions. One plaintiff claims she was directed not to hire women with children.
According to plaintiffs, Combined allegedly regularly promoted less qualified men to upper management positions. Another plaintiff claims she was passed over for a promotion in favor of a man she had far outperformed. Combined told her it had not even interviewed her because she was a mother and presumably could not travel. Other women claim to have obtained promotions only to encounter a glass ceiling.
The women allege that Combined’s actions have caused them to suffer physical, emotional and economic injuries and seek damages and injunctive relief on behalf of themselves and all other women who have similarly suffered.
In a statement issued by Combined Insurance in response to reports of the sexual harassment complaint, the company denied that it tolerates sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace.