Progressive insurance company sued for 'patently unlawful' racism for granting $25K to black-owned businesses

OHIO – According to reports, the well-known insurance company, Progressive, is being sued for “patently unlawful” racism over a program that exclusively awards black-owned businesses $25,000, while allegedly discriminating against businesses owned by white, Asian, Hispanic, and other entrepreneurs from applying.

On Wednesday, August 16th, the suit was filed in an Ohio federal court by the group America First Legal (AFL). AFL, a conservative organization, is headed by former senior Trump advisor, Stephen Miller.

The class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of the owner of Freedom Truck Dispatch LLC, Nathan Roberts.

Roberts has claimed that Progressive racially discriminated against non-black small business owners by offering grant money to 10 “Black-owned small businesses to use toward the purchase of a commercial vehicle."

The suit also alleges, “Progressive does not permit non-Black-owned small businesses to even apply for the grant. Plaintiffs Nathan Roberts and Freedom Truck Dispatch bring suit to enjoin Progressive from continuing these racially discriminatory practices and recover classwide damages on behalf of everyone who has suffered unlawful racial discrimination on account of this program."

The suit claims that on May 24th, Roberts, who is a customer of Progressive, received an email advertising “a grant opportunity for their [Progressive’s] commercial-trucking small business owners." However, Roberts said, “Progressive decided that only black-owned businesses would be eligible for these grants since studies have shown how inequities have made it harder for black entrepreneurs to access capital."

The suit states that Progressive’s grant program “therefore discriminates against non-Black owned businesses in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981."

Progressive is joined by defendant Hello Alice, with whom it partnered on the financial award extended to black-owned businesses with 10 or fewer employees and a turnaround below $5 million. Progressive announced its winners for 2023 in a press release, which stated, “Progressive is stepping in to provide funding to Black entrepreneurs to help navigate their small business journey."

The suit states that Roberts, who is white, is ineligible for the $25,000 grant that Progressive awarded to Black-owned small businesses.

It also stated that, “Mr. Roberts is suffering past and future injury in fact because he was barred from applying for this grant, and he cannot apply to become a grant recipient without subjecting himself to racial discrimination."

According to Roberts’ lawsuit, the entire scheme was nothing more than “racially discriminatory grantmaking” with the “racially discriminatory requirement” to be black in order to qualify.

AFL lawyer Gene Hamilton said that the case was part of a larger pushback against big corporations injecting “racial considerations into every aspect of their business operations, employment practices and so much more."

Hamilton said in a statement, “Our client was denied a contract with Progressive that would have provided him with $25,000 toward the purchase of a new truck solely because of the amount of pigment in his skin."

Hamilton also said that Roberts is a hard-working “small business owner fighting to create a better life for himself and is family." The suit asks that the court declare Progressive’s grants illegal and award the plaintiffs “nominal” compensation and pay his legal fees.

As of recent, AFL has also launched lawsuits against Amazon, Target, Kellogg’s and the video game maker Activision Blizzard.
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