BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — National civil rights attorney Ben Crump and other attorneys are taking insurance giant, State Farm to court over alleged racial discrimination.
In a lawsuit, more than 20 pages long filed in a United States District Court in Michigan, a former employee for nearly 30 years claims she was fired for calling out daily racism and discrimination during her tenure at State Farm.
Dr. Carla Campbell-Jackson, first vice president of the Bloomington-Normal N.A.A.C.P., said racism was an issue the entire time she worked at State Farm at offices in both Bloomington and Michigan.
“State Farm’s culture of racism and discrimination has been very prevalent since day one for me,” Jackson said.
Jackson said African Americans and other employees were called “lazy” and “un-educated.” She even claims leaders within the company used racial slurs when referring to employees and even customers.
Jackson claimed minority workers often receive lower performance reviews and pay raises.
She also alleges as a manager at the company, she noticed a trend of minority and inner-city resident’s claims being “illegally” denied. When she brought up concerns to the company, she was offered $175,000 in “hush money” to keep quiet she said.
The money was denied.
“I’ve had people say, ‘Oh Dr. Carla, I would have taken that money.’ But no. Racism and discrimination cannot be bought away,” Jackson said.
State Farm released a statement hours later saying, “We believe these allegations are without merit, as they run counter to our values and who we are as an organization. In our defense of these allegations, we will provide important facts that Campbell-Jackson has failed to present.”
However, Jackson said she was fired after being offered the “hush money” and declined to take it.
“As I refused that offer, they quickly ushered in two armed security guards. I will never forget that image,” Jackson said.
According to State Farm, Jackson was fired in 2016 after, “she shared sensitive, confidential personal customer and employee information outside of our organization; a clear policy and code of conduct violation by a management-level employee.”
State Farm said Jackson filed a claim of discrimination against the company in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which chose not to represent her in the case.
Now Jackson is being represented by Chicago law firm, Hart, McLaughlin & Eldridge as well as nationally renowned Civil Rights attorney, Ben Crump.
“State Farm has an obligation to stop such behavior and not retaliate against those who reported it and complained about it,” Crump said. “Their actions show that they condone the racism because there is no other reason an exemplary employee for 28 years would be terminated by them.”
Crump said since filing the lawsuit last week, 50 other current and former employees have come forward backing up Jackson’s claims.
“We believe it will be a landmark lawsuit against State Farm because their racism is causing harm,” Crump said.
Crump, Jackson, and other attorneys and civil rights activists held a press conference Thursday morning at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition headquarters in Chicago.
Find the full press conference below.
Read State Farm’s full statement:
“Ms. Carla Campbell-Jackson was terminated from State Farm because she shared sensitive, confidential personal customer and employee information outside of our organization; a clear policy and code of conduct violation by a management level employee. After becoming aware of the situation, State Farm took quick action to follow breach protocols and to secure the sensitive information. Since Jackson’s termination in 2016, she has filed a discrimination charge against State Farm with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). It’s important to note that the EEOC chose not to litigate this matter on behalf of Campbell-Jackson. While we admire Ben Crump’s important civil rights work, we fundamentally disagree with the facts Carla Campbell-Jackson is presenting in this case. We believe these allegations are without merit as they run counter to our values and who we are as an organization. In our defense of these allegations, we will provide important facts that Campbell-Jackson has failed to present. At State Farm, we embrace diversity and inclusion because it is simply the right thing to do. We seek candidates with diverse backgrounds and experiences and do not tolerate or condone discrimination of any kind. Racism has no place anywhere in our society and we work tirelessly to provide an inclusive environment where everyone feels valued. We strive to be a force for good in the communities we serve. When we have additional comments, we will share them publicly.”