MetLife Approved to Pay $32.5M To Settle Systematic Discrimination Claims

Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel


On July 3, 2017, U.S. District Judge William Pauley III signed off on a $32.5 million settlement which pays African American MetLife Securities Inc. employees thousands of dollars to end a proposed class action claiming that MetLife violated federal civil rights laws. Marcus Creighton, the lead plaintiff in the suit, alleged that the company systematically discriminated against its black employees and ultimately paid them less than their white coworkers.

In the original complaint, Creighton outlined the way that the company “almost entirely excludes” black financial service representatives from forming “favorable” teams when combining client accounts, a common company practice. He also alleged that MetLife steered the most lucrative accounts and opportunities away from black brokers and denied them equal access to the company’s “Delivering the Promise” training program.

Creighton attributes the issues to MetLife’s “nearly all-white” management team that “maintains a racially-biased corporate culture and stereotypical views about the skills, abilities and potential of African-Americans that infect personnel decisions” and bleed into their company policies.

The parties underwent intense mediation while the settlement was in the works and ultimately convinced the court to preliminarily approve the $32.5 million figure, as they contended it was generated from “fair negotiations” and appropriately compensated workers while eliminating the risk of expensive and lengthy future litigation.

In order to allocate a fair sum to each plaintiff, the settlement considers objective and subjective factors. For example, the number of weeks a plaintiff was employed is taken into account while their “individual experiences” dealing with company-wide discrimination during this time also determines their share of the reward. Creighton is receiving $75,000 while six other named plaintiffs will be receiving $50,000.

Out of the $32.5M settlement, $7.15 million is allocated for class counsel and the remaining $25.35 million is set to cover “all black, U.S.-based brokers employed by or affiliated with MetLife of New England Life Insurance Co. between May 15, 2011 and July 1, 2016.”

The case is Creighton et al. v. MetLife Securities Inc., case number 1:15-cv-08321, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

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