The purpose of the notice is to inform you about (a) this lawsuit, (b) the Settlement and Settlement Class definition that the Court has preliminarily approved, and (c) your rights in connection with the Settlement and a hearing to be held before the Court on June 21, 2017, to consider the fairness, reasonableness and adequacy of the Settlement and related matters. The notice also describes the steps to be taken by those who wish to be excluded from the Settlement Class and, for those who remain in the Settlement Class, the steps necessary to seek a share of the Settlement Fund if the Court approves the Settlement.Top
Plaintiff Marcus Creighton filed a representative charge of racial discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on February 16, 2015. On May 15, 2015, he filed a Class Action Complaint alleging that MetLife discriminated on the basis of race against African American and/or Black Financial Services Representatives (“FSRs”) with respect to compensation and various other practices such as account transfers and teaming. Mr. Creighton brought class claims under federal anti-discrimination laws and later amended his complaint to include six additional Plaintiffs: Constance Green, Don Roman, Danielle Sydnor, Darryl Fyall, Charles Swindell and Vernon Hobbs. Together these individuals are called “Named Plaintiffs” because they brought the lawsuit seeking to represent a group (or “class”) of similarly situated African American and/or Black FSRs. The Amended Complaint describes all the claims which can be found by clicking here. The lawsuit is known as Creighton, et al. v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, Case No. 15-cv-08321-WHP (S.D.N.Y.).
MetLife denied and continues to deny all of the allegations and claims asserted in this lawsuit, including alleged liability under federal anti-discrimination laws, and denies that the Named Plaintiffs or Settlement Class Members are entitled to any relief. The Court has not made and will not make any determination on the merits of this matter or decide who is right and who is wrong. By entering into the proposed Settlement, MetLife does not admit any wrongdoing. The Settlement resolves claims of race, color, national origin or ethnicity discrimination, harassment and retaliation in compensation and other terms and conditions of employment, including claims brought or that could have been brought in the lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq., and 42 U.S.C. § 1981, as well as state and local anti-discrimination laws.
The Court has reviewed the Settlement and has preliminarily approved it as being fair, adequate and reasonable. Before deciding whether to give the Settlement final approval, the Court wishes to inform the Settlement Class of the general terms of the Settlement and of the right of Settlement Class Members to comment on it or to opt out of (be excluded from participating in) the Settlement.Top
You are a member of the Settlement Class affected by the Settlement if you fit within this definition:
All African Americans and/or Black Financial Services Representatives who were emplyoyed by and/or affiliated with MetLife or affiliated with NELICO (collectively referred to as "MetLife"), at any time between May 15, 2011 and July 1, 2016.
If you received the Notice in a mailing addressed to you, then MetLife's records show that you may be a Settlement Class Member, i.e., that you fit the definition above. If so, you have legal rights and options that you can exercise before the Court finally approves the Settlement.
MetLife has agreed to create a Settlement Fund in the total amount of $32,500,000, which includes payments to Settlement Class Members, Service Awards to the Named Plaintiffs, Class Counsel’s attorneys’ fees and litigation expenses, taxes (including the employer’s share of taxes or contributions such as federal and state unemployment taxes, FICA, FUTA, SUTA and Medicare) and the costs of administering the Settlement Fund, including the costs of notifying the Settlement Class.Top
You have three options. You must decide at this stage whether you want to (A) remain a Settlement Class Member and potentially seek a monetary award from the Settlement Fund; (B) opt out and exclude yourself from monetary relief in the Settlement; or (C) object to the Settlement, but you may do so only if you remain a Settlement Class Member. If you opt out of the Settlement, you may not object to it.
Option A: Remain A Settlement Class Member
If you do not request to be excluded, you will remain a part of the Settlement Class. The Court will hold the Final Approval Hearing and you, as a Settlement Class Member, will be represented by Class Counsel at no cost to you. If the Court gives final approval to the Settlement, you will then have the opportunity to submit a Claim Form requesting a share of the Settlement Fund. In order to be eligible to receive a share of the Settlement Fund, you must fill out, sign, and submit a Claim Form, a Form W-4, and a Form W-9 to the Claims Administrator by the Claims Submission Deadline to be set by the Court after final approval of the Settlement.
Each Settlement Class Member will release his or her race, color, national origin and ethnicity employment discrimination, harassment and retaliation claims against MetLife under federal, state and local laws, arising up to and including the date of Preliminary Approval, as set forth in the Settlement: March 30, 2017.
Whether or not you submit a Claim Form, and unless you opt out, all claims covered by this Settlement through March 30, 2017 will be barred by this Settlement. If you did not opt out, you remain eligible to object to the Settlement pursuant to Option C below, whether or not you submit a Claim Form.
Option B: Opt Out
You may request to opt out of, or be excluded from, the monetary relief provided in this Settlement. If you opt out, you will not be eligible for any monetary award as part of this Settlement. Any Settlement Class Member who wishes to opt out must mail a written, signed statement that he/she is opting out of the Settlement to the Claims Administrator, at the address listed below. To be effective, this opt out statement must be postmarked on or before May 29, 2017, and must include the following language:
I hereby opt out of the class action settlement in the lawsuit Creighton v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., Case No. 1:15-cv-08321-WHP (S.D.N.Y.). I understand that, by requesting to be excluded from the monetary settlement in this case, I will receive no money from the Settlement Fund created under the Settlement Agreement. I understand that I may bring a separate legal action seeking damages, but I might receive nothing or less than what I would have received if I had filed a claim under the class monetary award procedure in this case.
The address of the Claims Administrator is:
Creighton v. MetLife Claims Administrator
c/o KCC Class Action Services
P.O. Box 43480
Providence, RI 02940-3480
Settlement Class Members who file opt outs may rescind their opt outs (i.e., you may change your mind and stay in the Settlement Class). To be effective, such rescissions must be in writing and received by the Claims Administrator at least one day before the Final Approval Hearing.
Settlement Class Members who submit timely and valid requests for exclusion will have no right to object to the Settlement in Court and will no longer be represented by Class Counsel.
Option C: Comment On Or Object To The Settlement
The Court must assess the overall fairness and reasonableness of the Settlement to the Class. Settlement Class Members who have not opted out of the Settlement may comment on or object to the Settlement, regardless of whether they submit a Claim Form.
In order to have your comment or objection to the Settlement considered by the Court or to speak at the Final Approval Hearing, you must submit to the Court a written comment or objection to the Settlement. Comments and objections must be in writing, signed, filed with the Court (with copies served on Class Counsel and Counsel for MetLife, at the addresses listed below), must include a detailed description of the basis of the comment or objection, must indicate whether you intend to appear at the Final Approval Hearing, and must be filed and postmarked no later than May 29, 2017. You do not need to be represented by separate counsel to comment on or object to the Settlement.
The address of Class Counsel is:
The addresses of Counsel for MetLife are:
Proskauer Rose LLP
Three First National Plaza
70 West Madison, Suite 3800
Chicago, IL 60602
Telephone: (312) 962-3545
If the Court grants final approval of the Settlement, then all Settlement Class Members who do not opt out will release MetLife from all claims of race, color, national origin and ethnicity discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in employment from May 15, 2011 until March 30, 2017. To “release” a claim means that you cannot sue MetLife for any of the claims covered by the release. Unless you opt out of the Settlement, you will be covered by the release, even if you do not submit a Claim Form for a monetary award.Top
Each Settlement Class Member may be eligible for a monetary award from the Settlement Fund.
In order to receive a monetary award, Settlement Class Members must fill out and submit a Claim Form, along with IRS Forms W-4 and W-9. Settlement Class Members can choose to submit either (1) a Simple Claim Form, in order to get an Expedited Monetary Award, or (2) a Detailed Claim Form, if they want the option of an individualized assessment of their race discrimination claims.
The Simple Claim Form is short and requires limited information. If the Settlement is approved and you submit the Simple Claim Form by the Claims Submission Deadline that will be set by the Court, you will receive an Expedited Monetary Award check within 45 days after the Claims Submission Deadline. The Expedited Monetary Award will be based on objective factors that include: MetLife Length of Service (“LOS”), period of employment as a Settlement Class Member within the Class Period, and “lateral” status. You will not receive an individualized assessment of your claim.
The Detailed Claim Form is longer and requires more information about your claims and employment at MetLife. If you submit a Detailed Claim Form, you will receive an Election Form along with a notice of the amount of the Expedited Monetary Award. You must then elect whether to accept the Expedited Monetary Award or proceed to an individualized assessment of your legal claims by one or more qualified Neutrals. If you return the Election Form and elect to accept the Expedited Monetary Award, you will receive a check within 21 days of returning the Election Form. If you reject the Expedited Monetary Award and elect an individual assessment, you will have an opportunity to meet with the Neutral(s). The Neutral(s) will then assess your claim and recommend a monetary award based on all available information and the individual facts and circumstances of your claim. There is no guarantee as to the amount of this monetary award. You may receive more or less than the Expedited Monetary Award, or you may receive no award, depending on your claim and losses.
Class Counsel will be available to assist Settlement Class Members in the claims resolution process and will ensure an attorney is present at all Neutral Interviews. You may also retain your own attorney to assist you in this process, at your own expense. If you file the Detailed Claim Form and elect an individualized assessment, the Neutral(s) may consider any attorneys’ fees you incurred in deciding what monetary award, if any, is appropriate.
All monetary awards will be reviewed and approved by a Special Master appointed by the Court to make sure they are fair and consistent. You will not have a right to challenge the allocation and distribution of the Settlement Fund determined by the claims resolution process and approved by the Special Master. All monetary awards are final, binding and non-appealable.Top
Yes, any award you receive from the Settlement Fund will have tax consequences for you. The Special Master will be responsible for allocating any monetary payments appropriately between different types of income (e.g., wages, interest, emotional distress). The Claims Administrator will be responsible for withholding, remitting and reporting each Claimant’s share of payroll tax withholding from the Settlement Fund, and for paying MetLife’s share of taxes and costs, including FICA, FUTA, SUTA and Medicare, from the Settlement Fund. Class Counsel are not tax advisors and cannot give you advice on any tax matters. Class Counsel urge you to consult your tax advisor for answers to any questions you may have about the tax implications of any potential award.Top
As a Settlement Class Member, you are represented in this litigation by Class Counsel, led by Linda D. Friedman, Suzanne E. Bish and George S. Robot of the law firm Stowell & Friedman, Ltd.:
Unless you elect to exclude yourself from the Settlement, you will continue to be represented by Class Counsel in connection with implementation of the Settlement at no cost to you. Although it is not necessary, you may, if you wish, retain your own attorney at your own expense.
As a Class Member, you have also been represented in this litigation by Named Plaintiffs Marcus Creighton, Constance Green, Don Roman, Danielle Sydnor, Darryl Fyall, Charles Swindell and Vernon Hobbs. The Named Plaintiffs may participate in the Settlement claims process just like any other Settlement Class Member. In addition, Class Counsel will ask the Court to grant service awards of $150,000 for each of the Named Plaintiffs. This recognizes the benefits the Named Plaintiffs achieved for the class, the risks they faced in bringing the case, and the time they spent pursuing it.Top
Class Counsel have pursued these claims on behalf of the Named Plaintiffs and the Settlement Class without receiving any compensation for their services or reimbursement of the litigation expenses they incurred. If you are a Settlement Class Member and receive an award from the Settlement Fund, you will not owe any fees or expenses to the lawyers who have represented you as part of the Settlement Class. Class Counsel will ask the Court to award them attorneys’ fees of not more than 25% of the Settlement Fund, plus reimbursement of their reasonable litigation expenses. The Court will decide how much to award Class Counsel for fees and expenses, which will be paid from the Settlement Fund.Top
The Final Approval Hearing on the Settlement will be held at 2:30 p.m. on June 21, 2017, in the courtroom of the Honorable William H. Pauley III at the United States District Court, Southern District of New York, 500 Pearl Street, New York, NY. At this hearing, the Court will determine whether the proposed Settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate and whether it should be approved. The Court will also consider the amount of fees and expenses to award to Class Counsel, the amount of the service awards to grant award to the Named Plaintiffs, and whether, in accordance with the Settlement, an order and judgment should be entered bringing the lawsuit to an end.Top
No. You are not required to come to the hearing, but you are welcome to come at your own expense. Class Counsel will appear at the Final Approval Hearing on behalf of all Settlement Class Members, at no cost to you. If you file an objection, you don’t have to come to Court to talk about it. As long as you did not opt out and you filed your written objection on time, the Court will consider it. You may also pay your own lawyer to attend, but it’s not necessary. If the Court gives final approval to this Settlement, the Court’s judgment will be final and binding on all Settlement Class Members who have not timely opted out.Top
If you have further questions or still are not sure whether you are included in the Settlement Class, you can get free help by calling the Claims Administrator at 1-866-680-6128, or by calling or writing to Class Counsel in this case at the contact number/address listed in FAQ 9.
The notice and this website contain only a summary of the terms of the Settlement. For further information, the complete terms of the Settlement Agreement and numerous other documents connected with the Settlement are available on this website for review and/or downloading. Click here to be directed to the Case Documents page of this website.
Again, the important deadlines are:
Last Day To Opt Out Of The Settlement Class: May 29, 2017
Last Day To Object To The Settlement: May 29, 2017
Final Approval Hearing: June 21, 2017
PLEASE DO NOT CALL OR CONTACT THE COURT, THE OFFICE OF THE
CLERK OF COURT, OR METLIFE WITH QUESTIONS REGARDING THE NOTICE.