By Stephanie Sutton.
Six current and former female pharmaceutical sales representatives have filed a $100-million gender discrimination lawsuit against Daiichi Sankyo in a US district court. The company employs around 3000 people in the US.
According to a statement from the law firm Sanford Heisler, which is representing the case, Daiichi Sankyo pays female sales reps less than male employees for the same work, advances female sales reps at a slower rate compared with their male counterparts, treats pregnant employees and working mothers of young children “adversely”, and subjects women to other discriminatory terms and conditions of employment.
“Female pharmaceutical sales employees, including the Plaintiffs, have been cautioned against committing ‘career suicide’ if they choose to have children while working for Daiichi Sankyo,” Janette Wipper, lead attorney on the matter, said in a statement. “Women who have dared to complain about the unequal treatment have been summarily ‘managed out’ of the company.”
The lawsuit also alleges that a group of predominantly male executives and senior sales personnel keep a “tight rein” on all employment decisions. “Through this male dominated leadership structure, the Company has approved and implemented policies, practices and decisions that have systemically discriminated against female employees,” said the Sanford Heisler statement.
Daiichi Sankyo has not released a statement on the matter.
It’s unfortunate in today’s age of equal rights that so many gender discrimination lawsuits have hit the headlines in the pharmaceutical industry in recent years. In 2010, a gender discrimination lawsuit against Novartis in the US (considered the largest lawsuit of its kind to ever go to trial in the US) resulted in the class of 5600 women being awarded payment for punitive damages.
Last year, Forest laboratories and Pfizer were also in the headlines for gender discrimination. The lawsuit against Forest Laboratories claims that the company engages in “systematic, company-wide discriminatory treatment” of female employees, particularly with respect to women who are pregnant or have children. Meanwhile at Pfizer, a former employee is suing for sexual discrimination, which the company is vigorously contesting.