Back in October 2006, Randy Dossat was closing in on a decade as a Roche sales manager in Nevada. He won awards and regularly earned salary increases. But then a new supervisor arrived and Dossat claims he began experiencing age discrimination. The 52-year-old Dossat was called 'old school' and references were made to his tenure with the drugmaker.
And so, Dossat complained but did not get very far. The drugmaker assessed negative performance reviews, tried forcing him to resign, failed to thoroughly investigate his concerns and left him reporting to the same supervisor, according to a lawsuit he later filed. And last week, a federal court jury awarded him more than $1.8 million - $168,000 in lost pay and $1,700,000 in damages for mental and emotional pain and suffering (see this).
"It started almost from the beginning," his attorney, Lani Estaban-Trinidad, tells us. "His new supervisor gave a powerpoint presentation which showed a picture of the Grim Reaper saying 'out with the old and in the with the new.' Coupled later with the remarks, this led my client to reasonably believe they were out to get him because of his age."
However, the jury did not find evidence of age discrimination, although Estaban-Trinidad explains that the law says if someone reasonably believes they are encountering discrimination and oppose those practices, they should not suffer retaliation. "And that's exactly what Roche did," she says. "Roche retaliated after he complained about his supervisor. No matter what my client did, it was never good enough" (here is the lawsuit).
Dossat, who detailed Tamiflu and the Boniva osteoperosis treatment, was later replaced by a 32-year-old African-American woman, says his attorney. His supervisor, she adds, is also African-American. Dossat is currently on long-term disability. We have asked Roche for a comment and will update you accordingly.
UPDATE: A Roche spokeswoman sent us this: "Roche is disappointed in the jury verdict in the US District Court for the District of Nevada. We continue to believe that Mr. Dossat’s case has no merit. We plan to appeal and vigorously defend ourselves. Roche is committed to ethical and lawful personnel practices. We are committed to providing an environment where each individual is respected and supported, and is rewarded on the basis of personal achievement and contribution."