Gender Bias Suit Filed Against Quest Diagnostics

Quest Diagnostics lawsuit gender discriminationBy Samantha Henry

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- Female sales representatives for Quest Diagnostics filed a $100 million federal lawsuit Thursday against the diagnostic testing company, accusing it of gender discrimination.

The suit was brought in U.S. District Court in Newark by sales managers Erin Beery in Indianapolis and Heather Traeger in Bradenton, Fla., two employees of the company's AmeriPath division.

They are seeking to have the court extend the lawsuit to other female sales representatives who have been employed by Madison, N.J.-based Quest Diagnostics Inc. since Feb. 17, 2010.

Beery and Traeger allege a wide range of discriminatory practices by the Fortune 500 company. They said Quest had failed to correct discriminatory policies, practices and procedures that have an illegal, disparate impact on women.

"Although Quest boasts about its dedication to delivering quality care down to the molecular level, the company falls woefully short of devoting similar attention to extending equal employment opportunities to its female sales reps," said David Sanford, the plaintiffs' lead attorney.

Quest officials said they had not been served with the lawsuit, nor had they seen a copy of it.

"Quest Diagnostics is an equal opportunity employer. We are proud to be routinely recognized as a top employer in communities around the U.S.," the company said in a statement.

The lawsuit claims that high-ranking company officials and a male-dominated upper management fosters an "old boys' club" environment that forces women to work under less favorable circumstances than men and denies them equal advancement opportunities.

Plaintiff Attorney Sharon Eubanks said there is a clear pattern of male employees and women without primary child care responsibilities advancing more rapidly and to higher-paying jobs at Quest.

"The managers who are maintaining and promoting the current male-dominated management structure have a disproportionate impact on the promotion and compensation decisions that affect female sales reps," Eubanks said.

In addition to seeking class-action status, both plaintiffs filed individual claims of disparate pay, differential treatment, gender hostility and retaliation in the workplace, among other allegations.

Quest Diagnostics employs approximately 42,000 people worldwide and operates clinical laboratories in most major metropolitan areas of the U.S., according to spokeswoman Wendy Bost. Revenues in 2010 were about $7.4 billion; 2011 results have not yet been announced, Bost said.

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