Progressive Insurance is facing a lawsuit that accuses the firm of “patently unlawful” racism in a program which offers $25,000 awards exclusively to black-owned businesses. The legal action alleges that the scheme discriminates against companies owned by white, Asian, Hispanic individuals and others who aren't black.
The class-action lawsuit was filed in an Ohio federal court on Wednesday by the conservative organisation America First Legal (AFL), led by former senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller. It is being brought on behalf of Nathan Roberts, the owner of Freedom Truck Dispatch, and argues that Progressive racially discriminated against non-black small-business owners by directing the grants to 10 “black-owned small businesses to use toward the purchase of a commercial vehicle.”
According to legal documents, the case centers around an email that Mr. Roberts – a customer of Progressive – received on May 24. The correspondence reportedly advertised “a grant opportunity for their [Progressive’s] commercial-trucking small-business owners.”
However, the lawsuit contends that “Progressive decided that only black-owned businesses would be eligible for these grants,” with the justification that "studies have shown how inequities have made it harder for black entrepreneurs to access capital."
The action also names Hello Alice as a defendant, the partner with which Progressive worked to provide the financial award to black-owned businesses meeting certain criteria, namely having 10 or fewer employees and a turnover of less than $5 million.
The insurance company Progressive has unveiled the recipients of its 2023 funding initiative in a press release issued on Tuesday.
The statement said:
“Progressive is stepping in to provide funding to Black entrepreneurs to help navigate their small business journey.”
According to the lawsuit filed by Roberts, the entire scheme was characterized as nothing more than “racially discriminatory grant-making” with the “racially discriminatory requirement” to be black in order to qualify.
AFL's lawyer, Gene Hamilton, explained to the Daily Mail that the case was part of a broader movement resisting the trend among large corporations of integrating “racial considerations into every aspect of their business operations, employment practices, and so much more.”