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Wednesday, July 24, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Agents Call Health Insurer Racially Biased

(CN) - A black couple claims a health insurance company pays them less in commissions than other brokers because they belong to a "disfavored racial group." In their complaint in Baltimore Federal Court, the owners and operators of Family Financial Services say Bravo Health Mid-Atlantic terminated their contract "in order to avoid having to promote an African-American owned agency to a higher level."

The couple, who are not named in the complaint but sued as a corporation, seek damages for discrimination, breach of contract and intentional interference with business relationships.

Family Financial enrolled senior citizens into Medicare prescription drug plans administered by Bravo. They say they subcontracted with 26 agents and enrolled more than 2,000 clients from 2006 to 2008.

In 2007, Bravo introduced a "levels" system that ranked contractors according to their enrollment success and paid increasingly higher commissions. Family Financial claims it was a top performer, but was ranked, and paid, at the lowest level.

It claims that Bravo "engaged in a pattern and practice of slotting and maintaining agencies owned by African-Americans at lower levels than similarly situated agencies owned by favored racial groups, thereby paying agencies owned by African-Americans lower commissions."

Bravo fired the agency on a pretext, claiming its "disenrollment rate" was too high, and tried to hire away the company's agents, the couple says.

They seek $2 million plus punitive damages. They are represented by Stephanie Gallagher with Levin & Gallagher.

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