Daiichi Sankyo Reps Bring Sex Discrimination Charge

Daiichi Sankyo Reps Bring Sex Discrimination Charge

February 13th, 2013 // 3:42 pm @

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Yet another drugmaker is being charged with alleged sex discrimination by female employees. The latest instance involves six current and former sales representatives for Daiichi Sankyo, who charge they were subject to discriminatory practices involving pay and promotions, as well as inapproriate conduct in the workplace. The lawsuit, which was filed yesterday in federal court in San Francisco, seeks $100 million and class-action status.

“Female sales employees of childbearing age have been cautioned against committing ‘career suicide’ if they decide to become pregnant, take maternity leave, or seek part-time work schedules at Daiichi,” the lawsuit charges. “Women who have been pregnant while working at Daiichi Sankyo have been faced with situations where they were called ‘baby makers;’ forced to attend work meetings in smoke-filled bars while pregnant; subjected to suspect compensation ‘offsets’ after returning from maternity leave; discouraged from breastfeeding, and ‘managed out’ or demoted for complaining about gender discrimination or for becoming pregnant” (here is the lawsuit).

The lawsuit comes amid a growing number of such complaints filed against some of the largest drugmakers, especially in the wake of a settlement three years ago in which Novartis agreed to pay $152.5 million to several female reps (see this). Last year, lawsuits were filed against Forest Laboratories and Pfizer (read here and here). Two years ago, AstraZeneca agreed to pay $250,000 to 124 women who were subjected to pay discrimination (see here) and a class action lawsuit was filed alleging that Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals discriminated against female employees (read this).

Among the various allegations: One rep claims she was cheated out of some of her maternity leave pay and suffered disparaging remarks because she was not allowed to breastfeed at certain times. A district manager allegedly told a male sales rep that “if you want to have your own (hotel) room, just say you’re a breastfeeding mom,” and during a business trip, he told a group of employees, “Let’s take a group picture, but instead of saying ‘cheese,’ let’s say ‘maternity leave,’ ” according to the lawsuit.

A district manager claims that she suffered discrimination because male district managers were paid higher salaries. One rep claims she was passed over for a promotion and other candidates, including female employees, would be considered because they did not have children. Yet another rep was told she could use a work-flex policy after returning from maternity leave, but worked days off and weekends without compensation. She was later told to accept a demotion and the ensuing decrease in pay was larger than what other demotions involved, according to the lawsuit. She filed a discrimation complaint with authorites and claimed she was, in turn, fired.

A Daiichi spokeswoman sends us this: “The company does not comment on pending litigation matters. Daiichi Sankyo complies with all laws regarding equal opportunity and non-discrimination.”


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