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Rideout v. Allstate Insurance Co.

United States District Court, Fifth Circuit

November 18, 2013



MICHAEL P. MILLS, Chief District Judge.

This cause comes before the court on defendant's motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 [Doc. 82, 83]. The plaintiff has responded in opposition to the motion. Upon due consideration of the memoranda and relevant law, the court is now prepared to rule.

Pamela Rideout is an African American woman who was employed by Allstate. She alleges Allstate discriminated against her on the base of race with respect to compensation, promotion, work assignments, resources, and other adverse terms pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. ยง 1981.

The plaintiff, Ms. Rideout, was employed by defendant starting in March 2006 as a Market Distribution Associate (MDA). It is alleged Ms. Rideout, who was the only black female MDA in her region, was paid less than the other MDAs employed on or near her hire date. Each new MDA was given resources by Allstate which included: a twenty-four month development plan, home office, cell phone, access to reports, an expense account, and particular assignments among other benefits.

Ms. Rideout claims she was provided with an unofficial, hand-written development plan that only allowed her ten months rather than the twenty-four months to complete. Further, as early as May 14, 2006, Rideout informed her manager at Allstate that her access to essential resources was unreasonably delayed. She was not provided a cell phone until September 2006, a laptop until March 2007, and was not provided a printer until October 2007. Ms. Rideout also claims she was assigned a market with limited potential and placed in a low-performing agency with numerous personal and financial challenges at a higher percentage than her similarly situated peers. John Meyer, a Caucasian male who managed the Tennessee territory of the Southern Region, allowed Rideout's peers to select the agents for their respective markets, and left the remaining rejected agents for Ms. Rideout according to her complaint.

Ms. Rideout contends Meyer routinely related to her in a dismissive and/or offensive manner and stated she was being "overly anxious" regarding the development plan and assigned market. Plaintiff met with human resource representatives of the defendant in March and June of 2006 to inform them of the racial discrimination she was encountering with Meyer and an incident in which a Caucasian peer referred to another African American as a "big black gorilla." Ms. Rideout states several people laughed at the statement, including the manager, John Meyer.

After discussing the ongoing issues, Rideout noticed a marked increase in hostility from Meyer, and her resources continued to be delayed. Despite not having access to the correct resources, plaintiff met her goals but other Caucasian MDAs did not.

Meyer additionally demanded Ms. Rideout surrender her law license although there was no policy within Allstate which prohibits MDAs from holding a law license. Ms. Rideout offered to suspend her license, but Meyer and the Regional Field Sales Consultant, Carl Tackett, rejected her idea and insisted she surrender her license or face possible termination.

Ms. Rideout met with Mike Brown, the Regional Distribution Leader, in October 2007 to handle her discrimination complaint and her low performance rating despite the fact she met or exceeded all measurable goals. Brown admitted Meyer's actions were wrong and needed to be addressed. Brown amended Rideout's rating and offered her an opportunity to participate in the Talent Acceleration Program, a program reserved for Allstate's forty most effective employees. Ms. Rideout was accepted into the program and the program required her to work in the corporate office in Northbrook, Illinois for twenty-four months, June 2008 until May 2010.

During the time Ms. Rideout was in the Talent Acceleration Program, she states she was not subject to any racial discrimination.

Ms. Rideout states in February 2010, she was denied the opportunity to be considered for a promotion and the not-posted-position was filled by a less qualified Caucasian male. Further, she was denied the opportunity to be considered for several other regional positions.

In April 2010, Rideout was informed that if she returned to the Southern Region, she would have to take a position in Kentucky, without the benefit of a relocation package. Robert Moseley[1], a human resource representative, informed her she would not need to relocate because the market could be successfully managed remotely, yet plaintiff claims similarly situated white peers were not required to manage their territories from remote locations. Moseley indicated Ms. Rideout could not return to the Memphis market because it could only sustain one Field Sales Leader (FSL). However, plaintiff learned that the Memphis market was split into two markets and the new market that emerged from the split was awarded to a Caucasian male from Florida.

Allstate announced Rideout would return to Memphis as a FSL in May 2010. Ms. Rideout contends however that she believed the Kentucky market was assigned to her and it was not a temporary assignment.[2] Defendant refers the court to a conversation Rideout had with Moseley and Eric Harvey, in which Moseley stated that there "were a lot of moving parts."[3] Plaintiff argues that defendant misrepresents the timing of the plaintiff's notes that relate to the phone conversation and they are in response to her learning that the Kentucky assignment was temporary. Further she argues the telephone conversation and the meaning of Moseley's statement is an issue for the jury.

Despite Ms. Rideout contending she was not happy to move to Chicago due to having a young son, she now contends she wanted to leave Memphis for the Kentucky market, but did not tell Moseley of her preference because "he did not ask... the very market I preferred had been assigned to me... and no indication that knowing my preference would make a difference to the decision..." Further, plaintiff testified she would have left the TAP ...

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