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Employment discrimination suit is certified against Farmers

Class action litigation in Connecticut and all other jurisdictions is well suited to achieving effective and widespread relief for large groups of employees who have been impacted similarly. Employee complaints against employers for matters dealing with wages, hours and discriminatory practices are in fact often pursued within the format of a class action. Where many employees suffer the same or similar effect from a discriminatory or improper employment practice, the class action can save substantial resources by obtaining relief for all affected employees in one representative action.

An example of employment grievances that can be brought in a class action format is a current case in a federal district court. The complaint was brought initially by one female attorney against her former employer, Farmers Insurance Co. The claim essentially asserted that she was paid less than her male counterparts even though having decades of seniority and experience over them. Three more female attorneys opted into the suit, and there are now 12 former or current female employees of Farmer's involved in the suit.

The federal district court judge presiding over the case granted class status earlier in December. The suit may end up proceeding on behalf of 300 or more female attorneys associated now or previously with Farmers. One count of the complaint is based on the federal Equal Pay Act, which simply requires equal pay for equal work. To put it another way, a prima facie case under the statute requires only a showing that unequal pay was received by a group of workers for equal work.

It is then up to the defendant to prove that there was a justifiable nondiscriminatory purpose for the distinction. The presumption of illegal employment discrimination will stand until disproved by the employer. These principles are applicable in a federal court in Connecticut and all other jurisdictions. The gist of the claim is that Farmer's pays male attorneys more for doing the same work that females are doing for significantly less pay. Furthermore, the employer is systematically giving higher profile work to male attorneys than it gives to their female counterparts, according to the lawsuit.

Source: insurancejournal.com, "Judge in California Grants Class Action in Farmers Female Attorneys Suit", Don Jergler, Dec. 21, 2015

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