A former broker for Farmers Insurance who was fired earlier this year despite being a top producer is suing the company, alleging he lost his job because of his age and for reporting problems with a software system.
Solomon Aflalo’s Los Angeles Superior Court whistleblower retaliation suit, brought Wednesday, also alleges intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The 54-year-old plaintiff seeks unspecified damages.
“This action reflects the ongoing pattern and practice of Farmers having zero loyalty to its dedicated and older workforce,” the suit states.
A Farmers representative could not immediately be reached for comment.
Aflalo began working for Farmers’ entities as a independent insurance broker in 1989 at age 21 and was called a “Farmers Franchise Kid” due to his youth, the suit states. For much of his time with Farmers, he was one of its top agents nationwide and never received a complaint about his work, the suit states.
In 2019, Aflalo was chosen the number-one producing commercial agent in California, according to the suit.
But he often complained to management that he was being discriminated against because of his age, in part because he and other older brokers were pressured to sign a new contract with less favorable terms, the suit states. Aflalo believed he was being pushed out at Farmers because of his age, according to the suit.
In addition, he disclosed information regarding the Farmers Xactware 360Value Home Estimator software, which he believed provided inaccurate information to the financial detriment of Farmers’ clients, the suit states.
“Unfortunately for Farmers’ insureds, this problem reared its ugly head when wildfires raged throughout the state of California, destroying homes that lay in their paths” the suit states. “Notably, two examples occurred in Southern California, the Thomas Fire in the Santa Barbara region and the Woolsey Fires in and around Malibu.”
Aflalo had two customers whose homes were destroyed in the Woolsey Fire, and one elderly customer who was significantly uninsured complained to the Department of Insurance, the suit states.
“Aflalo insisted that there was a flaw in the system that needed to be reviewed, and suggested that agents be allowed to increase the valuation output by Xactware 360 to better valuate the loss of Farmers’ insureds,” the suit states. “In this regard, he advocated zealously for his clients.”
For several years, Aflalo reported to management that Farmers’ practices regarding the setting of auto insurance premiums violated the state Insurance Code and cheated his customers, the suit states.
Although insurance companies are required to recalculate auto premiums yearly based on the depreciated value of a vehicle, Farmers did not do this, he alleges.
Last December, he received a letter notifying him he would be fired in March, but he was ultimately asked to stay on until mid-May and worked those last two months for free, the suit states.
Although he brought in up to $800,000 in new premiums in 2019, he was told he was being fired for a “lack of production,” the suit states.