Brown & Brown Insurance in Florida Settles Pregnancy Discrimination Suit for $100K

June 19, 2017

Daytona Beach, Fla.-based insurance brokerage firm Brown & Brown will pay $100,000 and furnish significant relief to resolve a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), according to statements issued by both EEOC and Brown & Brown, which denied the suit’s allegations.

According to the EEOC’s suit, EEOC v. w Brown & Brown of Florida, Inc., Brown & Brown made a written job offer to an applicant and also sent her an employment agreement for a “personal lines technical assistant” position at its Daytona Beach location and proposed employment start dates. Upon receipt of the offer letter, the applicant affirmed her interest by email and sought to ask a few questions regarding the offer. About two hours later, the applicant spoke with the department leader’s assistant and inquired about maternity benefits because she was pregnant.

The EEOC claimed in the suit that the assistant immediately advised the department leader of the applicant’s pregnancy and, minutes later, according to the suit, the applicant received an email from the company rescinding the job offer, stating that it “had a very urgent need to have somebody in the position long term…We appreciate you telling us beforehand.”

Pregnancy discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

“The Pregnancy Discrimination Act requires that pregnant employees be treated the same as non-pregnant employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work,” said Michael Farrell, the EEOC’s Miami District director. “This includes treating pregnant employees the same as others at the hiring stage.”

Brown & Brown denied the allegations and raised defenses to the claim, but said in a statement that it had reached a settlement to avoid protracted litigation and wasteful expense of attorneys’ fees.

“Any time you can resolve a case brought by the EEOC, which is backed by a virtually unlimited litigation budget of taxpayer money, it only makes sense to find a sensible financial resolution with no admission of wrongdoing,” said Bob Lloyd, general counsel for Brown & Brown.

The consent decree requires Brown & Brown to adopt and distribute a policy on pregnancy discrimination; training of managers, supervisors and human resources personnel at the company’s Daytona Beach location, as well as employees at all other Brown & Brown Florida locations.

The training will cover sex discrimination, including pregnancy discrimination. Brown & Brown also agreed to provide annual information to EEOC during the two-year monitoring period concerning its handling of pregnancy discrimination complaints.

Lloyd called the terms of the consent decree redundant for Brown & Brown, saying the company is committed to hiring and developing teammates without regard to their protected status.

“Brown & Brown has been and always will be a Meritocracy, where all of our teammates are given an opportunity to succeed and are measured on the merits of their performance,” the company statement said. “Brown & Brown’s commitment to our teammates’ success is paramount and our obligations under the consent decree are merely in furtherance of this commitment.”

From This Issue

Insurance Journal West June 19, 2017
June 19, 2017
Insurance Journal West Magazine

Construction; Medical Professional Liability; Umbrellas – Personal & Commercial

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