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Podcast: Metlife and Employment Racism, Black Lives Matter, and Diversity Initiatives

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In this episode of the Employee Survival Guide, Mark discusses a current employment discrimination case brought by a former Metlife employee in Connecticut on December 4, 2019.   The employee, who is Black, accuses Metlife of race discrimination in her employment.
Mark examines the company’s BLM response and diversity initiatives across the company and the contemporaneous employment discrimination experienced by an employee of the company.   The episode concludes by asking whether Metlife was just marketing in reaction to the George Floyd murder and subsequent protests or whether Metlife really meant to bring about permanent change.    The answer is very clear.

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Unknown: Hey, it’s mark here and welcome to the next edition of the Employee Survival Guide, where we tell you what your employer does not want you to know about and a lot more. Today we’re going to talk about MetLife and implement racism, Black Lives Matter and diversity initiatives, all at MetLife. This podcast features a current employment discrimination case brought by a former MetLife employee in Connecticut on December 4 2019. The employee who is black, accuses MetLife of race discrimination in her employment. The case was filed pro se meaning she filed it herself with the court and then petitioned the court for what’s called informer proper, meaning that she need lawyers appointed by the court to assist her because she financially couldn’t afford it. I volunteered as pro bono counsel, along with a colleague of mine in May of 2020. The case is captioned as Stephanie Cunningham versus MetLife group at 319 cb 101912. In a district of Connecticut, a copy of the complaint is attached to the actual article on our website. In September 2011, Miss Cunningham became employed with MetLife in the company’s Bloomfield, Connecticut offices, she worked there continuously and with good performance reviews until racial problems arose in employment. During her tenure, Miss Cunningham, was working towards her PhD in philosophy and eventually has achieved that goal. In July 2017, Ashley trinco, a biracial African American became Miss Cunningham supervisor. Miss Cunningham’s former supervisor was Miss stirring goes husband, a Caucasian Miss trinko asked Miss Cunningham if she was Puerto Rican. And she responded know that she was African American. You’re probably wondering, why is the supervisor attempting to discover her race? And why is that even relevant to her work duties? It’s not. Miss Cunningham retorted that she does not talk about her race at work, and that she was raised African American. Coincidentally, Miss Cunningham sister was also employed at the company. Miss trango, further asked why Miss Cunningham and her sister had different textured hair. Specifically Mr. Mango inquired if Miss Cunningham was mixed race or biracial, adamant Mr. Mango argued that she could see the textual differences in the sister’s hair and demand to know why. Again, these are not relevant questions related to work and are discriminatory based upon race, even if asked by a biracial supervisor. During her training, Miss Cunningham was confronted by another African American employee who was providing job training, the employee stated to miss Cunningham. Quote, you were a fake black person and quote, Miss Cunningham immediately reported the incident to human resources and explained how shocked she was by the work environment at MetLife. An investigation ensued. But as usual, the company failed to confirm the existence of any discrimination, or even that the racial statement was made. In October 2017. Miss trinco abruptly gave Miss Cunningham a written warning that was factually baseless and intended to harass Miss Cunningham. During our employment, she would attend daily team huddles where I miss trinko again made comments about Miss Cunningham’s hair. That it’s kinky and looks like pubic hair. Again, why is this even relevant to miss Cunningham’s work duties and performance? It’s not as discriminatory Mr. Manga would often discuss her personal life while at work in front of Miss Cunningham. Quote Miss trango describe the details of taking a shower with Matt her husband and Miss Cunningham’s former supervisor at his parents house compared to her new master bedroom at our new home with sexual inferences added in. Miss trango stated that she had more white girlfriends than black ones. And in fact, she stated she didn’t even have any black girlfriends. She also told plaintiff reading from the complaint of course, and others how she was a bully in school and that her she had her friends help her bully and taunt a girl for stealing her sneakers and quote, that’s from the first amended complaint paragraph 23. On July 17 2017, a federal judge in Manhattan approved a 32 point million dollar settlement to resolve a racial discrimination class action suit and filed by form MetLife financial service representatives quote at MetLife we are committed to promoting a diverse and inclusive workspace and do not condone discrimination and quote. This is from Kim Friedman, a company spokesman said reported back in 2017 to Bloomberg BNA. On April 25 2018 MetLife received a state agency complaint for racial discrimination that Miss Cunningham had filed the same day via telephone. On that same date. Miss Cunningham received a written warning for allegedly quote not being productive, and quote, she refused to sign the warning. After being handed the warning Miss Cunningham just started to cry as she tried so hard to rise above all the discriminatory conduct and finally hit a wall. After the complaint was filed. Ms. trinco targeted Miss Cunningham and made every attempt to force her to quit. Eventually Miss Cunningham was forced Take a medical leave of absence on June 7 2018. Due to the enormous stress caused by Mr. engos racial discrimination directed at her. Before her leave, Miss Cunningham repeatedly complained to HR in January 2018. But nothing was ever done to correct the racially hostile work environment which continued until the day Miss Cunningham left on a short term disability leave of absence. She relayed all of his touring goes racial comments that our hair looks like poop pubic hair, whether her hair was real, if you use chemicals to straighten her hair, if she was a lightest one in her family, etc. The Human Resources employee admitted Miss Cunningham should not have been treated in this discriminatory manner and told her she would speak to Miss trinko directly. Miss Cunningham requested a transfer out of the department, but the Human Resources employee stated that she had to work out her differences with Ms. trinco. How does a black employee workout quote unquote differences created by a racist biracial supervisor, they are forced to work under. Things got even worse. This Cunningham was denied a promotion by Mr NGO, which was given to a lesser qualified Caucasian coworker. In February 2018. Miss Cunningham, again complained to HR asking to be removed from the unhealthy work environment. The Human Resources employee denied her request. On May 7 2018, MetLife concluded its purported investigation of Miss Cunningham’s complaints of racial discrimination and reported that it had found no racial issues. No surprise here, folks. The HR investigator told Miss Cunningham she had interviewed her coworkers But Miss Cunningham asked her coworkers if anyone from HR had called them. her coworkers all denied being requested or being questioned by HR. On June 6 2018. Miss Cunningham filed a police report complaining of hostile work environment and racial discrimination. We often find times employees will do file police reports but they don’t have any legal repercussions to their employment cases. On June one 2020 MetLife tweeted on its social media account, quote, as a company that is deeply committed to diversity, inclusion and human rights. We will strengthen our resolve and advocating for change and doing our part so that we build a society that protects all people and values, all voices and quote on June 18 2020 MetLife, the MetLife Foundation, quote, announced it was committing 5 million over the next three years to advance racial equity in the United States. Mind you, this is the same period of time that most companies were pivoting to after the George Floyd murder to support Black Lives Matter and diversity issues. The foundation quote goes on to say the foundation will use the funds to promote black educational and career opportunities, black business ownership and racial justice initiatives. MetLife Foundation’s $5 million dollar pledge will supplement the 10 million in annual contributions it already makes to support diverse communities in racial equality, along with 100 million in impact investments made by MetLife investment management to support diverse communities and small businesses and quote, however, MetLife never defines what these initiatives are or defines impact investments. You would need to research these companies filings made to the securities exchange commission, but who besides me has the time and patience to do so? No one. That’s the point. It’s all a marketing and public relations program to make it appear MetLife is concerned about important social issues. The MetLife foundation announcement goes on to include this statement. Quote, in 2019 MetLife joined the CEO action for diversity inclusion, the largest CEO driven business commitment to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and quote, The MetLife CEO is Michael Khalaf. I apologize for mispronouncing his name, who reportedly earned $15 million in total compensation in 2020. All CEOs who join the initiative pledge a specific set of actions the signatory CEOs will take to cultivate a trusting environment where all ideas are welcomed, and employees feel comfortable empowered to have discussions about diversity and inclusion and quote, remember, this CEO initiative began at the same time Miss Cunningham’s racial discrimination case was getting underway. The CEO pledge reveals the primary goal for all companies CEOs assignment, quote, we know that diversity is good for the economy. It improves corporate performance, drives growth and enhances employee engagement and quote, the pledge contains four commitments all company CEOs have committed their organizations to number one. We will continue to make our workplaces trusting places to have complex and sometimes difficult conversations about diversity and inclusion. Number two, we will implement an expanding unconscious bias education. Number three, we will share best and unsuccessful practices. And finally four, we will create and share strategic inclusion and diversity plans with our board of directors. On June 24 2020 MetLife, tweeted quote, inclusion is a priority at MetLife. Click here to read how we’re using our global Hashtag inclusion and hashtag diversity insights study to strengthen our culture. And quote, when you click on the last link in the text, it produces a 404 error code meaning that the company page was taken down. Why? We don’t really know. According to the company’s website regarding global diversity, inclusion, quote, our workplace, and, quote, the company fails to include any information about blacks on the set of pages describing current diversity inclusion initiatives. Again, why, on June 21 2021, that life filed a certified EEO one form to the US eco Employment Opportunity Commission, which reveals that no or zero blacks or African Americans occupy positions in the C suite. Overall blacks or African Americans occupy only 3% of the entire company workforce. In comparison, blacks and African Americans comprise 13.4% according to the US most recent 2019 census data. However, Dr. Cindy pace the African American is the vice president global Chief Diversity and Inclusion officer at MetLife. And she has held this role since 2000 April 2019. She forward slash savvy Cindy, this Cunningham’s case continues to the present. As her attorneys we have recently filed motions to compel further discovery and motions for sanctions against the defense and their legal counsel. The issues involved in each motion address the wholesale failure to provide relevant discovery to miss Cunningham and absurd legal objections designed to conceal the very same racial discrimination alleged in the First Amendment amended complaint. In addition, MetLife has sought to shield a great many documents behind the attorney client privilege. However, as claimed in Miss Cunningham’s motions MetLife abused the attorney client privilege because the attorney identified than the defendants privilege log was not admitted in Connecticut during all dates of his communications from New York to the defendants employees in Connecticut, who are handling Miss Cunningham’s internal complaints of discrimination and her agency complaint for the same strangely, during a telephone conference call with opposing counsel. I was sternly warned by defense counsel not to pursue a claim for unauthorized practice of law by the out of state attorney in New York, who was also a former associate at the same law firm. Both the district court and statewide Grievance Committee will have to decide this issue. So what is your impression regarding MetLife efforts to support Black Lives Matter diversity initiative, while also handling Miss Cunningham’s case during the same time period is Met Life canceling Miss Cunningham while the same time seeking to promote its corporate image related to the treatment of blacks in America? The aforementioned information was all derived from publicly available information. If you’d like more information about this podcast episode, please contact our employment attorneys at Carey & Associates C or email at Have a great week and be well

Tags: Metlife Employment Racism Black Lives Matter Diversity Initiatives