Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sexist Sanofi?

Four female sales representatives have sued pharmaceutical group Sanofi-Aventis for sexual discrimination in a $300m class action lawsuit.

In a suit filed with a US District Court in New York, the women allege that they were barred from promotion opportunities, received lower pay rises than their male colleagues and were subjected to sexually abusive working environments.

Three women were added as plaintiffs in Wednesday's complaint, which follows an original suit filed in March.

The suit seeks class action status, with potentially larger implications for the 8,000 US sales personnel of the French drug maker.

Marc Greene, a spokesman for Sanofi-Aventis, the third-largest pharmaceutical company in the world, said that the company was confident that "the suit lacks merit, and that all of our employees are treated fairly and in compliance with all applicable federal and state laws".

This month, a US federal judge gave the green light to another class-action discrimination suit, this time against Novartis, the Swiss pharmaceuticals group. In the $100m lawsuit, 19 female sales workers alleged they were discriminated against in payment and promotions.

Plaintiff Karen Bellifemine, who worked for Sanofi-Aventis for more than 12 years, alleges that the company "does not discipline managers or other employees when they discriminate against female employees or create a sexually charged and inhospitable workplace for women".

Ms Bellifemine said sexually explicit language was used in e-mails and during "happy hours", and that she was twice denied promotions that were given to male colleagues.


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