Trending Topics

‘Slavery Was Not All That Bad’: Current and Former Black Employees Sue Assurant, Claim Insurance Giant Fostered Racist Workplace

Two employees and a former employee at Assurant Inc. are suing the company for racial discrimination, alleging that the insurance provider pays Black workers less than their white peers.

Assurant sells insurance for appliances, cars, mobile devices, and tools. The company has about 15,600 employees worldwide and reported nearly $10 billion in revenue for 2021.


Assurant’s most recent equal opportunity data shows that the company had 2,084 Black employees in 2020, with about 690 of those working as mid-level managers.

A lawyer representing William Judson, Daris Steen, and Richard Stein has also accused Assurant of upholding a white-male dominated workplace where executives talk freely about how slavery wasn’t all that bad for Black people. The class-action lawsuit, filed June 2 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, asks the court to provide “monetary damages” to Judson, Steen and Stein, but doesn’t mention a specific amount.

(L-R) William Judson, Daris Steen, and Richard Stein (Photos: LinkedIn)

The lawsuit mentions instances at work in recent years where Judson, Steen, and Stein — who are all Black — were offended by a white manager’s behavior.

According to the plaintiffs’ filing, one instance was when an Assurant manager asked Black employees their thoughts about slavery. The manager then said, according to court papers, “The slaves should have been happy that they were no longer in Africa. Slavery was not all that bad for slaves because they had food and shelter from slave owners.”

Assurant has become a place of “devastating ongoing racial discrimination,” where white employees are promoted faster than Blacks, the lawsuit alleges. White employees often get higher base salaries, bonuses and commission, the lawsuit states, and complaints about the unfair treatment went unresolved whenever Judson, Steen, or Stein informed human resources.

“As alleged, Assurant engaged in this disgusting conduct for years while promoting the white managers responsible for the unlawful acts,” attorney Jeanne Christensen said in a statement. “We look forward to holding Assurant accountable for its unlawful discrimination as alleged in the complaint by our clients.”

Judson, 63, is a former district manager who said he was fired from Assurant once he complained to human resources about a co-worker saying he would “figure out a way to get rid of your old Black ass,” according to the lawsuit.

Stein is a current district manager who joined the company in 2014 and said he hasn’t received a promotion even though white male employees under him have been, the lawsuit states.

Steen joined Assurant in 2007 and is now a district manager for Assurant’s division that sells auto insurance.

“In over 50 years, not a single person of color has been in a position higher than Mr. Steen when he was an area manager in this division,” the lawsuit states.

Assurant did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

What people are saying

One thought on “‘Slavery Was Not All That Bad’: Current and Former Black Employees Sue Assurant, Claim Insurance Giant Fostered Racist Workplace

  1. Rita Hunter says:

    This is very disturbing news about the lawsuit, to say the least. I have worked for Assurant since 1996, and have experienced only one (albeit, one too many) incident of blatant racial discrimination while a friend of mine and I were waiting our turn at the community coffee maker in the beverage oasis and an older white female employee glanced back at us then said to another white employee accompanying her, “It’s getting a little too dark around here for me.” My friend and I just looked at each other and spoke of it briefly once we were alone again, but decided at the time to let it go as we were still very new to the company and didn’t want to make any waves.

    Stumbling upon news of this lawsuit and the details within it is very distressing to me, especially given my medical condition and the circumstances that forced me to take an early retirement in order to prevent being terminated after 27 years with Assurant due to the limited use of my arms and hands. Because of my condition it became unbearably impossible for me to meet my daily data entry production standards, even though I consistently maintained quality standards in the 98-100% range. I began receiving bad performance reviews and letters threatening termination from my job, so when retirement was suggested to me by managers (since I’m now 60 y/o), I opted to retire instead in order to keep from losing my pension and Vanguard investments.

    In short, stumbling upon this article is so distressing to me because it never before occurred to me that this company may have been treating its minority employees differently than its White ones. But now I have to consider that a strong possibility given my own “treatment” by Assurant. I’ve been pretty much ghosted by the company since the day after my final day, with no one from HR ever reaching out to me (the way my manager told me they would) to discuss my options for my pension and 401K. I don’t have any savings other than my 401K and my house payment will be due again in 2 weeks. I’m completely stressed out. I’m going to have to call my bank to discuss alternative options, because now I’ve been told (after finally reaching the HR helpline myself following a week of trying) that it could be another 30 days before I receive any funds at all.

    Have we been paid less than white employees? I wouldn’t know. We’ve always been instructed by the company NOT to discuss pay with fellow employees, so how can we possibly know if we’re earning the same as our non-minority coworkers? I’ve followed the company rules by never discussing it. Finding out about this class-action racial discrimination lawsuit while searching for complaints from other Assurant retirees is my introduction to that possibility and it’s so disturbing to me that this could’ve been a practice in place affecting me for nearly 3 decades through I’ve been totally ignorant to it all along. Needless to say, I’m heart-broken.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top