Where State Farm sees ‘a lot of fraud,’ black customers see discrimination
She and nearly a dozen other black and Muslim employees working nearby also received copies of an anonymous letter sent through the U.S. Postal Service, calling African Americans “uneducated” and calling bottom-of-the-barrel Muslims. When Ms. Campbell-Jackson and the other employees raised their suspicions that the letters came from inside State Farm, officials dismissed their concerns, her lawsuit said.
In May 2016, State Farm fired Ms Campbell-Jackson, saying she had shared sensitive information outside the organization. Ms Campbell-Jackson said she simply sent an email containing information about customer complaints to State Farm executives at their request. She was offered $175,000 in severance pay on the condition that she agree to never speak about her experiences at State Farm, according to court filings.
Ms. Campbell-Jackson did not accept the offer. Later that month, she filed a lawsuit with the EEOC, claiming that State Farm violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by discriminating against her because of her race.
In most cases where an employee reports racial discrimination, the EEOC gives that person a “right to sue” letter, essentially saying that it would be reasonable for the employee to file a complaint in court. But last year the EEOC sided with Ms Campbell-Jackson, saying State Farm had discriminated against her and 10 of her colleagues, and recommended that the insurer pay her around 500,000 $ in damages and back pay. The two parties did not reach an agreement.
In a letter to State Farm, an EEOC official wrote that it appeared Ms Campbell-Jackson “was harassed because of her race and fired in retaliation for complaining of harassment”.
In December, she sued State Farm in federal court in Michigan, claiming she had suffered discrimination, a hostile work environment and retaliation. Benjamin Crump, a civil rights attorney who represented the families of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, two black Americans killed by police, is part of his legal team.
The same week that Ms Campbell-Jackson announced her lawsuit, two State Farm executives discussed her case in a video the company sent to employees.