Alleged Discrimination: Female Farmers Attorney Employee Sues

June 18, 2015 - A class action lawsuit was filed by Lynn Coates against Farmers Insurance on behalf of female attorney employees containing allegations that the insurance conglomerate has policies and procedures in place that are discriminatory against women in the workplace.

Accusations made in the class action lawsuit indicate that the Los Angeles, California based insurance company was illegally paying their female attorneys significantly lower wages than their male attorneys that were performing the same work duties.

The suit claims that Farmers fails to compensate female attorneys on staff in equal measure when compared to their male counterparts performing equivalent work and that they actually systematically offer female attorneys less pay than the men. The men are also disproportionately offered higher profile work assignments, more opportunities for promotions and pay increases as well as workplace recognition for accomplishments on the job. In short, the suit claims that Farmers advances their mail attorneys’ careers much faster than that of their female attorneys. The suit even goes so far as to claim that rather than being treated equally, the female attorneys are treated more like support staff for the male attorneys.

  • Coates was paid less than male attorneys who had decades less experience on the job.
  • While Coates was working for Farmers, younger, male attorneys received the best cases.
  • Procedures and practices discriminating against women have been in place at Farmers since the 1970s.

A previous lawsuit was filed in the 1970s by the Secretary of Labor against Farmers claiming unequal pay, Marshall v. Farmers Ins. Co., Civil Action No. 75-63-C2. In this suit, Farmers’ salary policy was found to be discriminatory. Specifically, it was found to exclude women in the workplace from appropriate promotion, etc.

Coates, the original plaintiff in the current suit against Farmers, is a resident of California. She worked in the Farmers’ San Jose branch legal office in the 1990s and again in 2010. Coates received positive reviews regarding her work and periodic raises, but even so, male attorneys on the job with decades less experience were making significantly more for comparable work. One male attorney on staff with similar experience and equivalent workload was making up to 50% more than Coates.

As soon as Coates became aware of the pay discrepancy, she attempted to discuss it with a supervisor. As a result, she was demoted from her position as an attorney to that of a paralegal. Coates states that the demotion was in retaliation for complaining about the unfair pay policies.

If you feel that there are discriminatory policies or unfair practices in place at your workplace, please get in touch with the southern California employment law experts at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.