"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."