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Drug company accused of sex bias in class action suit

In our last post we discussed how sometimes workplace policies might not be outwardly discriminatory but can still have a negative impact on a particular group of employees. These types of policies may be hard to identify at first glance, but they are one of the ways in which gender discrimination remains so prevalent in workplaces in Pennsylvania and around the country.

A recent case filed in federal court against pharmaceutical company Merck &Co shows another example of this. In this case, a sales representative says that female workers at the company should have class action status to pursue claims that they were subject to unfair performance evaluations along with other policies that made it harder for women to succeed.

One of the policies, according to the lawsuit, is the structure of the sale incentive plan, which penalizes directors and managers when their employees take leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. This leads to a bias against female workers who are or may become pregnant, or those who have children that they made need to take FMLA leave to care for.

A similar case was brought against a different drug company several years ago, resulting in a $250 million payout for discrimination against thousands of female sales representatives.

This lawsuit is seeking damages for more than $100 million on behalf of the class of female employees who have been the victims of sex discrimination. The first step is to be certified for class action status so that the individual employee may pursue the claim on behalf of a larger group.

Source: Thomson Reuters News & Insight, "Merck sales rep claims sexual bias, seeks over $100 mln" Ransdell Pierson, May 9, 2013

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