Anthem Hit With Class Action Over Alleged Discrimination, Misclassification

The Anthem Companies, Inc. and the Wellpoint Companies, Inc. are being sued by plaintiff and former employee Eugenia Caicedo (on behalf of herself and a putative class) over allegations that the companies engaged in unlawful discrimination and violated the New York State Human Rights Law, the New York Executive Law, the New York City Human Rights Law, and the Administrative Code of the City of New York. The class and collective action complaint was filed on Tuesday in the Southern District of New York.

In June of 1996, Caicedo was hired to work for the defendant as a Field Sales Representative in their Medicare Department. As part of her job, she was required to meet quotas for signing up customers. In order to meet the quotas, Caicedo would often have to work 70 hours a week, effectively resulting in 30 overtime hours.

Caicedo claimed that it was impossible to meet the required quota by working normal forty-hour weeks, meaning that oftentimes she would “engage in sales activities with clients on the phone after hours, including on weekends.” However, she was never paid overtime for these hours despite working well beyond the normal workweek. She asserts that the defendant “knowingly and willfully” engaged in this practice by “improperly misclassifying” their employees as exempt from overtime pay.

In addition to the overtime pay discrepancy, Caicedo purports that she was denied proper medical leave as provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and that she was both retaliated and discriminated against by her manager for taking medical leave.

Deborah Younger, Caicedo’s manager, reportedly engaged in a variety of discriminatory practices towards her. In addition to making comments about her accent and her age, Younger called Caicedo frequently in 2018 when she took a 30 day leave of absence for medical purposes. In these phone calls, Younger would demand that Caicedo return to work, saying, “Are you dead? I don’t care if you’re sick. Come back ASAP.” Caicedo complained to the Human Resources Department regarding the calls, and Younger received a reprimand.

Upon returning to work, the plaintiff contended that Younger retaliated against her for her earlier complaint by assigning her to work in regions of the country that inherently made it more difficult to meet her quota. After having a period of low sales due to her reassignment, she was fired in September 2018. She claims her termination was unfair and “discriminatory because other people who didn’t meet quotas were not so quickly summarily fired; but because of her age and retaliation against her, Plaintiff faced insurmountable odds to keep her job.”

Caicedo is ultimately alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the New York Labor Law, applicable state wage and hour laws, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law. The plaintiff stressed her entitlement to unpaid overtime compensation, statutory penalties, liquidated damages, and attorney’s fees and costs. She is seeking favorable declaratory judgements on the issues she has brought forth, an order enjoining the defendants from further engaging in unlawful practices, an award of statutory penalties and relief, as well as other relief the Court may deem proper.

The plaintiff is represented by Lee Litigation Group.