Settled and Closed - Starks v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company

This action alleges Defendant Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company (hereinafter "Defendant"): (1) discriminated against Plaintiff, and those similarly situated employees, on the basis of their race and sex in violation of California Government Code section 12940 by engaging in a course of conduct intentionally designed to discriminate against Plaintiff and those similarly situated on the basis of their race and sex; (2) failed to take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent discrimination from occurring in the workplace in violation of California Government Code section 12940(k); (3) failed to pay Plaintiff, and those similarly situated, overtime pay in violation of California Labor Code section 1194 and applicable Industrial Welfare Commission Orders; (4) failed to pay Plaintiff and those similarly situated, wages for all time worked; and, (5) failed to provide accurate wage statements to Plaintiff, and those similarly situated, as required by California Labor Code section 226, in that the wage statements did not include all hours worked or wages earned.

Plaintiff seeks to represent Commercial Lines Underwriters (“CLUs”) in California whom Defendant designated as Small Market CLUs from July 2015 to the present. In 2015, Defendant reorganized its Commercial Lines Underwriting Department (“CLUD”) and, through a process called “segmentation,” divided the CLUD into two groups: Small Market Commercial Lines Underwriters (“SMUs”) and Middle Market CLUs. Plaintiff alleges that following segmentation, SMUs’ job changed dramatically, going from a job where CLUs had the discretion to organize their day, and worked directly with assigned agents to meet profitability goals, to one where Defendant controlled every aspect of the SMUs’ work day.

On March 3, 2021, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge David De Alba certified this case as a class action, assigning Plaintiff as class representative and the Workman Law Firm as class counsel. The class consists of the following two subclasses:

  1. The first subclass (“Subclass A”) is comprised of Commercial Lines Underwriters (“CLUs”) Defendant designated as Small Market CLUs from June 2015 to the present. Ms. Starks asserts that following Defendant’s reorganization of the Commercial Lines Underwriting Department (“CLUD”) in June 2015, Nationwide misclassified the Small Market CLUs and, as result, did not pay Small Market CLUs for all hours worked and overtime compensation owed.
  2. The second subclass (“Subclass B”) is comprised of CLUs who identify as Black or Hispanic, who held the position of CLU from August 17, 2012, to the present. Ms. Starks asserts that Nationwide’s promotional system had a disparate impact on, and therefore discriminated against, the CLUs who identify as Black and Hispanic.

The parties have reached a settlement of both Ms. Starks' individual claims as well as the class claims. This matter is scheduled for a hearing on Preliminary Approval at the end of June, 2022. Once preliminary approval is granted, class notices will be mailed to the class members and Plaintiff will thereafter request the Court grant final approval. Once final approval is granted, the settlement administrator will disburse settlement payments pursuant to the settlement terms. The Court granted Preliminary Approval, and Final Approval, the funds have been distributed and the case is now closed.