On Friday, a Jackson County Circuit Court jury awarded $20 million in punitive damages in a case that alleged retaliation, age and sex discrimination against an American Family Insurance sales manager.
The plaintiff, a 60-year-old woman of Blue Springs, brought the case against the company and a former Missouri state director of the company who supervised her.
The woman continues to be an American Family agent after she was removed from her manager position in a corporate restructuring.
A spokesman for American Family said Monday that the company strongly disagrees with the verdict “and believe it is contrary to the facts and testimony that were presented at trial.”
The media relations director for the company said: “We do not illegally discriminate in any way, and there was no discrimination in this situation. We are considering our options for appeal.”
Attorneys for the woman said they believed the jury agreed that she was targeted as part of a corporate movement to let older workers go and hire younger ones.
The plaintiff’s case included testimony that the woman was an award-winning sales manager and had produced results on par with or better than her peers who were younger and mostly men.
The jury also awarded $450,000 in actual damages.
There are many Federal and Florida laws and statutes that all prohibit discrimination in the workplace. In Florida, employers cannot discriminate against employees on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, physical disability, or age.
The law prohibits any such discrimination in hiring, firing, promotion, job assignment and pay. Employment discrimination can encompass many different things. Rude jokes, failure to promote, and reasons for termination can all constitute discrimination.