The US Supreme Court’s denial of a review came in a long-standing legal battle by former Allstate agents over allegations that the insurance company violated the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) by discharging 6,400 employee agents.
Last year, the 7 th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s ruling dismissing the discrimination claims filed by former employee agents Doris Isbell and James Schneider. The appellate court found that Allstate’s revamping of its workforce affected all employee agents, regardless of age.
In addition, the appeals court said Allstate had a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for eliminating the jobs of employee agents and moving to an all-independent contractor agent force. Under the plan, Allstate would no longer sell insurance through employees, but instead would do so through a network of independent contractors.
In addition, the appellate court rejected Isbell’s argument that Allstate violated ADEA as evidenced by the fact that the company conducted a series of studies that examined the relationship between age and productivity. “Taken together, this evidence does not provide a ‘convincing mosaic’ from which a jury could infer discriminatory intent on the part of Allstate,” the court said.
The 7 th Circuit opinion in Isbell v. Allstate Insurance Co., U.S., No. 05-1010, cert. denied 3/20/06 is here .