Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Insurance Co fined for offering lower rates to church goers

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - An insurance company has agreed to pay almost $75,000 in fines to settle a religious discrimination claim.

The Justice Department announced the settlement Friday involving Des Moines, Iowa-based Guideone Mutual Insurance Co. and two authorized agents, which had advertised special homeowners' and renters' benefits called FaithGuard to "churchgoers" and "persons of faith."

Under the agreement, the defendants must pay a total of $29,500 to three plaintiffs and $45,000 as a civil penalty.

GuideOne had offered the FaithGuard endorsement in at least 19 states. It must cease the practice under the agreement.

The lawsuit was the result of complaints filed by an atheist, an agnostic, and the Lexington Fair Housing Council. The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky in conjunction with a proposed consent decree.