A former insurance account executive in California has filed a lawsuit claiming she was fired from her job in retaliation for complaining about discrimination against her by a supervisor who didn’t like her caring for her two children while she worked from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The suit, filed in the Superior Court of California in San Diego, alleges gender discrimination, retaliation, gender harassment, and wrongful termination by HUB International Insurance Services Inc., a massive insurance brokerage headquartered in Chicago that provides property/casualty, risk management, life and health, employee benefits, investment, and wealth management products and services. Hub employees more than 10,000 and has more than 375 offices across the U.S. and Canada.
The lawsuit seeks damages due to losses in earnings and employment benefits, emotional distress, and loss of reputation, to be determined at the time of trial.
Drisana Wallace was employed by HUB in San Diego from August 2019 to June 2020. In the suit she alleges that her supervisor, Daniel Kabban, an executive vice president, had issues with her working from home and caring for her children, and that she was eventually terminated over her complaints about the supervisor.
“This employer holds itself out as an expert in HR services, employment regulations and personnel management,” said Wallace’s attorney, Daphne A.M. Delvaux, with Gruenberg Law. “For a company with so much know-how on employee matters they should hold themselves to the highest standards in its own implementation of employment law.”
A HUB spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Wallace was unable to arrange childcare for her children, ages 4 and 1, because of the lockdown. She was able to perform her job functions, but it took a toll on her children, one of which she was nursing, according to the suit.
“Because Plaintiff was working, the children were put in front of the television, which made Plaintiff feel guilty,” the lawsuit states. “Plaintiff stopped working during the lunch hour so she could feed her children and put her youngest down for a nap, and return back to work. Most days, she did not have time to feed herself between the demands of young children and her job and would only drink coffee to get through the day. Repeatedly, Plaintiff worked at night when her children were asleep. Plaintiff never worked harder in her life. Plaintiff and her children sacrificed so she could keep her commitments to her job.”
Wallace emailed a human resources representative at the firm in March requesting assistance, and was told that managers were expected to be more flexible, so she believed HUB would be supporting her, according to the lawsuit.
The suit alleges that Kabban was biased against mothers, engaging in “a barrage of sexist statements” against Wallace, as well as telling her that children are not to be heard during phone calls, which the suit says was difficult for her to do because the calls occurred when the children were awake.
“Unfortunately, throughout the pandemic and teleworking accommodation, Kabban continued scheduling calls during lunch times, when Plaintiff was feeding her children, nursing, or putting her child down for a nap. Plaintiff reiterated her schedule allowed for calls in the afternoon,” the suit states.
The suit also alleges that Kabban often gave Wallace “rush” tasks that demanded immediate turnaround, he questioned her availability, and he treated fathers working from home differently that she was treated.
Wallace again met with human resources in June and notified the department of what she felt were bias and sexism in HUB’s workforce, and following that she was terminated. However, she was told that HUB was experiencing reduced revenue due to COVID-19, so she was in fact being laid off, the suit alleges.
“HUB has hidden behind COVID-19 as a shield to cover up an illegal termination,” the lawsuit states. “HUB has sent a clear message to its employees that mothers will be discriminated against, and that reporting discrimination to HR will lead to immediate termination, in violation of California’s retaliation protections for workers.”
Wallace also filed charges of discrimination with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing on June 5, according to the suit.
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