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The Collaborative Clearinghouse for Lawsuits and Other Claims Against ACE Group Insurance Companies

Longtime Employee Sues ACE Unit Over Terrorist Claim

July 28th, 2014 - A former territory manager for Combined Insurance Co. has sued the ACE Group unit over charges that he was fired in retaliation for complaining that he had been publicly called a foreign-born terrorist.

Jamshid “Jim” Pedram is a first-generation immigrant from Iran who went to work for Combined in 1985 as an insurance agent at its Kansas City, Missouri office. He said he received positive reviews for his work and in 2009 was recognized by the company for sales performance.

But in a March 9, 2010, company meeting, Pedram said he was introduced to co-workers by supervisor Brad Knight as someone another Combined staffer “likes to say, the terrorist.”

Pedram said he quickly reported the offensive remark to the then-head of human resources. Within two weeks he said that Knight issued to him a written warning concerning his job performance.

Pedram said he again contacted HR and asserted that Knight’s reprimand was in retaliation for his original complaint. Within two months, HR informed Pedram that no discrimination or retaliation had occurred.

From then on, Pedram said that Knight acted in a hostile manner toward him and refused to help him meet performance goals.

In late 2012, Pedram received a new supervisor, Josh Ornce. Pedram said that Ornce seemed to disapprove of his status as an Iranian immigrant. And he said that Ornce and Christy Travis, another Combined employee, were delaying and impeding his hiring of new agents.

Pedram eventually was demoted from a manager to a sales position, and then took his complaint to the Missouri Commission on Human Rights. Meanwhile, the HR department said that his demotion was justified.

On July 17th, 2013, Pedram was fired for failing to maintain sales volume. He then filed a second complaint with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, and on April 17th, it closed its investigation and gave him a notice of his right to sue Combined.

Pedram has done exactly that – filing suit against Combined in Jackson County (Missouri) Circuit Court. He complained that his insurer and Ornce discriminated against him in violation of the Missouri Civil Rights Act. He asked for unspecified damages that the court would set.

Court-mandated mediation has been set for the case.

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