A U.S. district judge in Bridgeport has ruled that a case against The Hartford by a former employee who accused the company of age discrimination and retaliation can continue, though his claims of harassment were dismissed.
The decision by Judge Janet C. Hall came last week in a 2007 case filed by John Miller, a longtime appraiser of auto damage claims at The Hartford Financial Services Group. The company had filed a motion for summary judgment to dismiss the lawsuit by Miller, who had spent more than 30 years with the company.
In 2006, Miller's name was put on a list of people who might leave the company, and a manager's e-mail noted that Miller was eligible for retirement and "will be put on written warning for performance," the judge noted. The warning claimed substandard quality and productivity, and he was eventually offered a severance package.
He declined and filed a charge of age discrimination with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities. Shortly afterward, the company reinspected a vehicle he had appraised and said he wrongfully declared it a total loss. In 2007, The Hartford fired him, saying he included nonexistent damage in the appraisal.
"A rational jury could find — in light of how Miller was labeled on the list — that Miller was disciplined in order to pressure him into accepting severance," Hall wrote.