Jury: American Family Must Pay $20M in Missouri Age, Sex Discrimination Case

December 14, 2016

A Missouri woman who sued American Family Insurance for retaliation and age and sex discrimination has been awarded $20 million in punitive damages.

Deborah Miller, 60, of Blue Springs, also was awarded $450,000 in actual damages by a Jackson County jury, The Kansas City Star reported. She was removed from her manager position in a corporate restructuring but continues to be a company agent.

Ken Muth, a spokesman for American Family, based in Madison, Wisconsin, said that the company strongly disagrees with the verdict “and believe it is contrary to the facts and testimony that were presented at trial.”

“We do not illegally discriminate in any way, and there was no discrimination in this situation. We are considering our options for appeal,” Muth said.

Miller’s attorneys said they believed the jury agreed that Miller was targeted as part of a corporate effort to replace older workers with younger hires.

Dennis Egan said he thought the jury was affected by testimony that John Bosman, a former Missouri state director of the company who supervised Miller, told Miller “this will not end well” when he put her on a performance improvement plan while she was on medical leave.

Testimony in the case indicated Miller was an award-winning sales manager who produced similar or better results than her peers who were younger and mostly men.

Egan said the plaintiff’s attorneys asked the jury to send “a message of significance that would capture the attention” of the American Family headquarters.

Latest Comments

  • December 18, 2016 at 5:12 pm
    Mark says:
    How a company treats employees and how they treat customers can be very different.
  • December 16, 2016 at 10:27 pm
    boonedoggle says:
    Unless the case is remanded for a new trial, there won't be a different jury. The appelate process considers only issues of law and possibly excessive damages.
  • December 14, 2016 at 3:42 pm
    Agent says:
    Saw a survey recently that American Family was a highly rated company. Surprised to see they are having the same problems of many other companies.
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