Farmers Insurance Agrees To Settle Equal Pay Class Action

Farmers Insurance has agreed to settle the pay discrimination class action lawsuit brought by its female attorney-employees, who allege that they are paid less than their male counterparts for doing the same work. The settlement is pending approval by U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh in the Northern District of California. A hearing for preliminary approval of the settlement has been set for June 23, 2016 at 1:30 p.m.

Andrus Anderson partner Lori E. Andrus said, “it is symbolic that we are announcing the settlement during the week of Equal Pay Day, when women’s earnings ‘catch up’ to men’s earnings from the previous year.”

The monetary relief for class members, and the key terms of the business practice changes are summarized as follows:

  • Farmers will pay $4,000,000 to be distributed to nearly 300 female attorney employees based on: tenure during the statutory period(s); salary grade(s); geographic area(s); and other criteria.
  • Farmers will retain an independent Human Resources Consultant to review and modify, if appropriate, its employment policies and procedures with respect to attorney-employee compensation, salary grade placement, performance ratings, and promotions.
  • For a 3 year period, Farmers will:

* appoint an Internal Compliance Official to monitor compliance with the terms of the Settlement, who will also provide annual diversity training to Farmers’ Managing Attorneys and Division Attorneys, and report to Class Counsel on Farmers’ compliance on an annual basis.

* conduct annual statistical analyses to confirm that its compensation policies and procedures are not having a negative impact on female attorney employees, and to correct any adverse impact identified.

* make salary range information available to attorney-employees.

* not prohibit Claims Litigation attorney-employees from discussing their compensation.

* seek judicial appointment of a Compliance Special Master to provide oversight over the Settlement.

* use its best efforts to increase the representation of women in Salary Grades 36-40 to certain agreed-upon benchmarks (see chart here).

The case is Coates v. Farmers Group, Inc., et al., No. 15-01913.