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Sanford Heisler Files $100 Mln Discrimination Litigation Against Merck

Sanford Heisler LLP has filed a $100 million individual and class action suit in the U.S. District Court for New Jersey against pharma giant Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK).

The action was brought by Kelli Smith on behalf of all female sales representatives at Merck. According to the complaint, the company systematically discriminates against its female and pregnant employees in assignment, promotion, advancement, and pay and retaliates against female employees in violation of Title VII of the US Civil Rights Act, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.

David Sanford, Founder and Chairman of Sanford Heisler and lead attorney on Ms. Smith's legal team stated, "Merck is a male-dominated workplace openly hostile to the success and advancement of women... Its discrimination against mothers is particularly egregious because Merck's compensation structure decreases the pay of managers whose subordinates take maternity leave."

The complaint asserts that employees on maternity leave are ineligible for merit awards and recognition for their sales, even when their sales surpass those of their male counterparts. According to Smith's legal team, Merck has long been on notice about its company-wide gender and pregnancy discrimination, but has taken no steps to remedy them. In fact, the complaint notes that Merck routinely retaliates against women who raise discrimination complaints.

Sanford Heisler LLP has a long record of victories in employment discrimination matters brought by female employees of global pharmaceutical companies, including a recent case against Novartis that resulted in the largest ever monetary award in a U.S. employment discrimination case.

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