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Lockton, former executive in discrimination, noncompete court fight

Lockton Cos. LLC and a former executive who recently joined rival Alliant Insurance Services Inc. are embroiled in legal disputes in California and Missouri centering on gender discrimination allegations and a four-year noncompete requirement.

Sallie Giblin, who joined Alliant as an executive vice president late last year, filed a bias suit against Lockton in December and last week filed a motion to dismiss the brokerage’s noncompete suit against her, which was filed in November.

Ms. Giblin, who was a successful San Diego-based producer at Lockton, was named one of the 2011 Business Insurance Women to Watch. She joined Lockton in 2006. In 2016, she joined the executive committee of the brokerage’s Pacific Series unit, became a Lockton partner in 2017 and was named president of the San Diego office in 2018.

In her suit, Sallie Giblin v. Lockton Cos. LLC – Pacific Series filed in California’s Superior Court in Los Angeles in December, Ms. Giblin alleges that as a leader at Lockton she was subject to gender discrimination and retaliation by other executives at the brokerage. In addition, she argues that Lockton’s noncompete agreements are unenforceable and that her dispute with brokerage should be heard in California. Courts in California generally favor employees in noncompete and nonsolicitation disputes with employers.

Among other things, Ms. Giblin alleges that Lockton is a “raucous boys’ club” where some executives engage in inappropriate behavior and men are promoted to the detriment of women.

In addition, she alleges that her accounts were insufficiently staffed after she intervened to prevent the hiring of two producers with a history of sexual harassment, she was excluded from various executive committee decisions and activities, and she was unfairly blamed for the poor performance and morale of the unit’s employee benefits division.

In September 2022, Ms. Giblin was removed from the executive committee. She resigned from Lockton on Nov. 29 and took a position as an executive vice president at Alliant.

On Nov. 30, Lockton sued Ms. Giblin in federal court in Kansas City, Missouri, where the company is headquartered, saying it was seeking to prevent her taking confidential information to Alliant.

The suit, Lockton Cos. LLC – Pacific Series v. Sallie F. Giblin, alleges that she refused to honor a required 30-day notice period and made claims of unfair treatment and discrimination against Lockton “as leverage to obtain a release from her commitment not to solicit Lockton customers and other restrictions.” Lockton imposes a four-year restrictive noncompete on partners.

Lockton alleges that Ms. Giblin created “a toxic work environment” after her promotion and had previously sought to leave the brokerage.

In the lawsuit, Lockton says Ms. Giblin was an “owner, Producer Member and Producer Partner” of Lockton rather than an employee and had access to sensitive competitive information and customer accounts.

Among other things, the suit seeks an injunction barring Ms. Giblin from taking Lockton clients, prospective clients and staff until December 2026.

A Jan. 31 filing by Ms. Giblin seeking to dismiss Lockton’s suit, characterizes it as “speculative” and asserts that “Lockton has not alleged that any employees or clients were improperly solicited by Giblin or have been lost due to wrongful conduct.”

The filing also alleges that Lockton conflates “trade secrets” and “Confidential Information” under Missouri law.

Michael A. Sherman, a partner at Stubbs Alderton & Markiles LLP, who represents Ms. Giblin, said the Lockton lawsuit contains “formulaic and meaningless allegations in their race for the courthouse.”

A spokeswoman for Lockton said the brokerage does not comment on pending litigation.

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