By: Stacy M. Brown, NNPA

On Tuesday, May 7, plaintiffs in a sizable class action lawsuit against insurance giant Geico joined prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump at a press conference in the nation’s capital. The lawsuit, alleging contractual breaches regarding policy renewal commissions and accusations of unjust enrichment, represents a coalition of minority business owners formerly associated with the company.

At the heart of the allegations is the contention that Geico, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, systematically deprived minority Geico Field Representatives (GFRs) of critical business opportunities through what Crump termed as “unfair and unlawful” practices.

“It is important to note that Geico had quality reports that detailed Geico field representative’s metrics. These reports were downright discriminatory for the Hispanics, and Asians who worked for Geico,” Crump declared, noting that the names of the reports were themselves steeped in racial bias. “Geico, you are better than this.”

The news conference spotlighted several key revelations:

  1. Disproportionate Termination: In an unprecedented move in March 2023, Geico terminated agents across the United States, with a staggering 67% of those affected being minorities.
  2. Exploitation of GFRs’ Labor: Plaintiffs assert that Geico reaped the rewards of GFRs’ hard work, retaining commissions generated from the business portfolios they painstakingly built. Moreover, Geico’s purported control over various aspects of GFRs’ operations allegedly left many questioning their professional futures post-termination.
  3. Representative Testimonies: Present at the conference were four terminated GFRs, all from minority backgrounds:
  • Steve Ching, a Navy veteran of Asian descent, was the sole minority GFR in the Pacific Northwest, operating in Portland, Oregon.
  • Kim Dao, a Vietnamese woman, saw her Atlanta, Georgia, office shuttered while those managed by white GFRs remained operational.
  • Denise Buckley, a Latina based in Houston, Texas, was the only Spanish-speaking agent in a region with a significant Latino population.
  • Kevin Ware, an African American with a decade-long tenure at Geico, managed the largest agency in the Midwest before its closure.

The lawsuit, initiated on November 7, 2023, in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, alleges a litany of legal violations, including breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and misclassification.

After Geico’s parent, Berkshire Hathaway’s, recent annual shareholder meeting on May 4, 2024, scrutiny has intensified on the conglomerate’s corporate governance. Crump and the plaintiffs have galvanized attention toward what they see as Geico’s discriminatory treatment of minority GFRs, igniting a national conversation on equity and accountability within the insurance industry.