A $100 million class action discrimination lawsuit has been filed against the leading pharmaceuticals company Merck.
Merck is being accused of systematically discriminating and retaliating against its female and pregnant employees in the areas of promotions and compensation.
According to the complaint, Merck discourages management from hiring and promoting women, attempts to force pregnant women to leave the company so their managers’ compensation will not be affected, and structures compensation so that managers and colleagues of pregnant women get paid less because they work with women who take maternity leave.
The lawsuit was filed by Kelli Smith, a Senior Sales Representative who works at the Merck office in Toms River, NJ. Smith claims that she was subjected to a hostile work environment by her boss after she became pregnant.
According to Smith, she was demoted to an entry-level sales position after she returned from maternity leave. Smith claims that her managers told her she was demoted because of her pregnancy and maternity leave.
Prior to her pregnancy, Smith alleges that she was a successful sales rep at Merck and had even received national recognition from the company for her sales productivity and outstanding leadership.
Kate Mueting, one of Smith’s attorneys, said, “Female employees are discouraged from having children, and punished when they do. Ms. Smith’s supervisors admitted that Ms. Smith’s low ranking was due to the ‘timing of her baby.’ High-level company officials, including Human Resources, refused to address her discriminatory placement, and attempted to discourage Ms. Smith from raising allegations of discrimination.”