More Financial News

$200 million class action lawsuit filed against Northwestern Mutual; AIG subsidiary closes office on Milwaukee’s south side; Badger Meter joins S&P SmallCap 600; M&I recognized for marketing programs

$200 million class action lawsuit filed against Northwestern Mutual

Three former financial representatives of Milwaukee-based Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company filed a $200 million suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California (San Diego) alleging federal and state wage and hour violations by the company.

The three allege that they were denied the minimum pay and overtime compensation to which they were entitled.

"Northwestern Mutual will certainly vigorously defend itself against the suit," said company spokeswoman Jean Towell. "These allegations are certainly without merit."

In a news release lawyers for the plaintiffs said they were employees of Northwestern Mutual. But Towell said they were independent contractors, not employees.

"The individuals who filed the suit have never been employees," Towell said. "They are financial representatives who are independent contractors in our nationwide distribution system."

The two California plaintiffs in the case requested certification of a class on behalf of hundreds of California employees or former employees of the insurance company, and $100 million in unpaid wages and liquidated damages on behalf of the class for violations of state law. The federal plaintiffs also requested unpaid wages and liquidated damages of $100 million.

"In modern society, workers are not indentured servants — they are entitled to work a livable number of hours at a livable wage," said David Sanford, an attorney for one of the plaintiffs. "Northwestern Mutual has systematically denied basic minimum wage and overtime pay mandated by both the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and California’s overtime and minimum wage laws."

AIG subsidiary closes office on Milwaukee’s south side

American General Life Companies, a subsidiary of the beleaguered American International Group Inc. (AIG), has laid off 254 of its 312 employees at its Midwest Operation Center in Milwaukee at 750 W. Virginia St.

The office has been closed, and American General Life Companies plans to consolidate its geographic locations into the Springfield, Ill. and Houston, Texas markets.

AIG has retained 58 of the local employees, who will work from an office near Mayfair Mall or telecommute, a company spokeswoman said.

"Over the past eight to 12 months, our business has experienced unprecedented conditions that resulted in the unfortunate necessity of a reduction in force," the company said in a prepared statement. "We are deeply grateful for the contributions of our colleagues who have been impacted by this decision and each impacted employee will receive severance and access to outplacement services. We believe this decision will result in American General Life Companies becoming a more nimble and competitive organization focused on long-term profitable growth."

Badger Meter joins S&P SmallCap 600

Badger Meter Inc., a Milwaukee-based manufacturer and marketer of liquid flow measurement and control products and technologies, has joined the S&P SmallCap 600 in the industrial machinery sub-industry index.

"Badger Meter is pleased to be added to the S&P SmallCap 600 index," said Richard Meeusen, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Badger Meter. "We believe our inclusion recognizes Badger’s strong performance record and future growth potential."

Badger Meter, with a market cap of approximately $640 million, is one of 600 domestic companies included in the S&P SmallCap 600. Introduced by Standard & Poor’s in 1994, the index is designed to highlight U.S.-based companies with market caps in the range of $200 million to $1 billion. In addition to meeting size criteria, stocks are selected for the index based on financial viability, public float, adequate liquidity, stock price, sector representation and company type. Inclusion in the listing provides small-cap companies with increased visibility, wider coverage by securities analysts and increased stock trading.

M&I recognized for marketing programs

Marshall & Ilsley Corp. was recently presented with seven industry awards by The Communicator Awards recognizing its efforts to effectively market a variety of M&I products, services, and events. The Communicator Awards is the leading international awards program honoring creative excellence for communications professionals. It receives more than 9,000 entries from companies and agencies of all sizes, making it one of the largest awards of its kind in the world. The awards are sanctioned and judged by the International Academy of the Visual Arts, an invitation-only body consisting of professionals from top-tier organizations.

M&I received a Gold Award of Excellence in the Marketing Effectiveness category for its 2008 Smart Saver CD integrated campaign which included newspaper ads, radio spots, sales tools, online banner ads, and landing pages.  The work was produced by M&I’s in-house agency.

The Award of Excellence is given to companies whose ability to communicate puts them among the best in the field – M&I joined other corporate winners in this category, including Toshiba, Omni Hotels, T-Mobile, and Mazda.

M&I also received six Silver Awards of Distinction in the integrated campaign, print magazine, marketing promotion and outdoor billboard categories.


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