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Allstate Insurance Company was sued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for alleged violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), the Americans with Disabilities Act, (ADA) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). On Dec. 27, 2001, the EEOC alleged that Allstate sought to change its entire sales force of 6,500 agents from employee agents to independent contractors. Under the initiative entitled, “Preparing for the Future Group Reorganization Program,” employee agents who chose to become independent contractors were required to sign a release of all employment bias claims, including those under Title VII, the ADEA and the ADA, and to withdraw any pending employment discrimination charges or lawsuits. For those who did not select to become independent contractors, Allstate offered the alternative of selling their book of business to approved purchasers or of receiving an enhanced severance benefit, provided they signed the release and waiver of all employment bias claims. This policy not only violated the non-retaliation requirements of the three statutes, claimed the EEOC, but also constituted unlawful interference, coercion and intimidation in the exercise and enjoyment of rights granted by the ADA. Efforts to mediate and conciliate the matter were unsuccessful, according to the complaint. The commission seeks injunctive relief, a declaratory judgment finding the release invalid and unenforceable, backpay, liquidated damages and both pecuniary damages and nonpecuniary damages for past and future losses. The complaint also stated that the violations were intentional and willful. Consequently, the EEOC also has asked for punitive damages. � 2002, CCH INCORPORATED. All Rights Reserved.

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