Bayer Gets $100 Million Gender Discrimination Headache
It's going to take a lot more than aspirin to make this $100 million lawsuit headache go away. Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals was just been hit with a class action complaint citing a pattern and practice of discrimination in pay, promotions, and the treatment of pregnant women and mothers.
The complaint, which was filed by law firm of Sanford Wittels & Heisler, LLP, in U.S. District Court for New Jersey, claims that Bayer has published and disseminated articles that suggest men are better suited to be managers than women, describing females as prone to "mood swings," "indecision," and "backstabbing;" and concluding that "women with power are 'loose cannons' who often feel threatened by colleagues."
The complaint also cites comments by managers disparaging working mothers and declaring that Bayer "needed to stop hiring women of reproductive age." The plaintiffs assert that senior managers have made negative comments about women discussing or acknowledging child-care responsibilities and have overlooked female employees who availed themselves of federally-protected maternity leave for promotions.
"Bayer engages in systemic discrimination against its female employees -- particularly those with family responsibilities -- by paying them less than their counterparts, denying them promotions into better and higher paying positions, limiting their employment opportunities to lower and less desirable job classifications, and exposing them to different treatment and a hostile work environment," said Katherine Kimpel of Sanford Wittels & Heisler, LLP, in Washington, D.C. "To make matters worse, Bayer is often blatant about its disregard for its female employees."
According to Class Representative Jennifer Musumeci, "We and the other women at Bayer take our careers very seriously, and our income is important to our families. For years, we tried to overcome the prejudice and discrimination at Bayer by proving ourselves to be even better than required. When that didn't work, we went to HR and senior management. Human resources and senior management have failed us and Bayer's female employees. It is our hope that through the court, we can make things better for women at the company."
The proposed class includes all female employees of Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals situated in associate director positions or higher. Class members seek declaratory and injunctive relief, back pay, front pay and lost benefits, as well as compensatory, nominal and punitive damages in an amount of $100 million or more for themselves and similarly situated female employees.
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