U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Company Rejected Woman for Promotions Based on Her Asian Race, Retaliated Against Her for Complaining to EEOC, Federal Agency Charged
MILWAUKEE – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today that a federal judge has entered a $110,000 consent decree that resolves an EEOC race discrimination and retaliation lawsuit brought against Federal Insurance Company, doing business as Chubb & Son, a U.S.-based property and casualty insurance giant with business worldwide.
The EEOC charged that Chubb refused to promote Kong Chee Vang, a Hmong employee, in its Milwaukee underwriting office because of her Asian race. The EEOC contended that Chubb failed to stop its managers from using stereotypes and negative assumptions based on race while supposedly considering Vang in 2006 and 2007 for a promotion to underwriter.
The suit further asserted that Chubb retaliated against Vang after she filed a complaint with EEOC alleging that her Hmong national origin and Asian race were the reasons she did not get the promotion. The retaliation, the EEOC said, consisted of Chubb’s rejecting Vang for a second promotion later in 2007.
Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides that job discrimination on the basis of race and retaliation for complaining about it are illegal. The EEOC enforces both provisions of Title VII, and has recently seen an increase in retaliation complaints nationwide.
The case, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Federal Insurance Company, d/b/a Chubb & Son, Case No. 10-c-0849 (E.D. Wis.), was filed in September 2010 and was scheduled for voluntary mediation before U.S. Magistrate Judge Aaron E. Goodstein. The parties reached an agreement before the scheduled mediation and the resulting consent decree was approved by U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman yesterday, May 3, 2011. Brian Tyndall, an EEOC Trial Attorney in Milwaukee, led the agency’s litigation effort.
Vang, who still works for Chubb, will receive back wages of $60,000 and compensatory damages of $50,000 for emotional distress.
“Business decisions involving jobs -- including decisions on promotions -- cannot be based on negative racial assumptions or stereotypes,” said John Hendrickson, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Chicago District, which includes Wisconsin. “When race gets into employment decision making, the process itself is fatally defective, and the EEOC will not hesitate to challenge it. The same is true when retaliation infects the situation. Managers who may think they are ‘just standing up’ for their companies when they retaliate against complainants are, in fact, just doing more damage.”
The decree also provides non-monetary relief, including an injunction against further discrimination or retaliation, required anti-discrimination training for Chubb employees, and reporting to EEOC in the event of future discrimination complaints made to Chubb by employees.
“The aim in all EEOC litigation is to end the discrimination and prevent a recurrence,” said EEOC Associate Regional Attorney Jean P. Kamp, who supervised the litigation. “The consent decree here puts the protections in place to make that a reality, and we are pleased that Chubb found a way to work with us at the EEOC to promptly bring the matter to a satisfactory conclusion.”
The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.