NU Online News Service, Dec. 14, 9:13 a.m. – Combined Insurance Company of America, Chicago, has issued a strong denial of a sexual harassment complaint filed against the company yesterday by 10 current and former female employees.

“While we have not yet received a copy of the complaint that was filed, we feel obligated to respond to the press release,” says Richard Ravin, chairman of Combined. “We have longstanding policies against sexual harassment and discrimination, and as a matter of practice do not tolerate such behaviors in our company.”

The 10 women yesterday filed a nationwide class action lawsuit in federal court alleging a pattern or practice of sex harassment and sex discrimination while working at Combined Insurance. The company is a subsidiary of Aon Corp., Chicago.

The complaint alleges that Combined Insurance condones and encourages a culture of sex harassment and oppression. The women claim they suffered harassment that ranged from verbal taunting to a gang rape.

Meites, Mulder, Burger & Mollica of Chicago, and Benassi & Benassi of Peoria, Ill., represent the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs say the management of Combined is overwhelmingly male and tolerates or participates in the harassment. They also allege the company retaliated against women who complained about the harassment, either by further harassing them or forcing them out of the company.

The complaint also alleges that Combined discriminates against women in hiring, pay and promotions.