Feinstein Doyle Payne & Kravec LLC and Sanford Heisler, LLP have revealed that more than 400 women had already reached out with discrimination claims relating to the $250 million women discrimination class action lawsuit against Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK).
Both former and current female employees still have three weeks to file their claims and join the class action, which is represented by David Sanford, Sanford Heisler Chairman, Andrew Melzer, Russell Kornblith, Sanford Heisler Senior Litigation Counsel, David Tracey, and Deborah Marcuse.
Class Action Lawsuit
The class action lawsuit against the pharmaceutical giant is made purusant to the Equal Pay Act and when approved, and the Civil Rights Act Title VII as well.
Kornblith emphasized that gender-biased pay treatment violates civil rights, though since wages are mutually agreed upon on an individual basis, it is unclear how Merck could have systematically discriminated against a gender. It is also unclear why women chose to work at Merck at all in the first place if they are being discriminated against because of their gender.
By ordering the plaintiffs to send out notices in April, the US District Court for the District of New Jersey (NJ) encouraged all female sales representatives suffering from the supposed pay discrimination throughout the country to join the class action lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, female sales representatives have lower salaries than male sales representatives, though it is not clear if the divide is more along the lines of people who are the primary caregivers of children and therefore have less time to advance in the workplace, vs. those who are not, and that most primary caregivers happen to be women.
Merck is also alleged of discrimination practices against women in the workplace, especially those who are pregnant, in terms of different employment conditions and benefits. Female employees are alleged to be denied career advancement opportunities and even prompted to quit from the pharmaceutical company.
In April, US District Judge Michael Shipp revealed that four former sales representatives have presented modest facts backing their claims against Merck. These led to the qualification of the complaint as a class action from a single lawsuit filed in 2013.
Despite this, Merck continues to argue that the claims lack merit and that there is no sufficient evidence backing the lawsuit. The company believes that it promotes and upholds equal opportunities for all of its workers regardless of gender or sex.