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Allergan settles gender discrimination case for $4m

Published on 11/10/17 at 08:33am

It could have been much worse for Allergan, after it agreed to pay $4 million to resolve a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination. The case related to Forest Laboratories, a company that Allergan acquired back in 2014 for $25 billion, with former employees alleging that it paid women in its sales force less than men and sought $100 million in recompense.

The decision brings to an end the five-year long case, which began against Forest before turning to Allergan once it had acquired the company. The pay-out will be eligible to female sales reps who worked for the company between February 2010 and April 2017.

Further than simply paying women employees less, the lawsuit suggested that the drugmaker had favoured male employees in regards to bonuses, promotions and penalised women who took maternity leave.

At the time, when the case was certified, Deborah Marcuse, then Managing Partner of Sanford Heisler Kimpel, said: "This decision sends a welcome message not only to the women who have bravely come forward in this case to challenge gender-based inequities at Forest, but also to other women in Big Pharma who believe they are being paid less than their male counterparts for the same work."

As predicted by Marcuse, the one case began a series of separate cases against big pharma companies, all alleging gender discrimination. Cases were levied against Novartis, whose acquisition of Alcon Laboratories made them liable for the case, for $110 million, and a separate case against MSD’s was also raised for $250 million, with more than 400 women claiming that the company underpaid female sales reps.

The case against Novartis was settled for $8 million, while the case against MSD is still ongoing – though, if the previous cases are anything to go by, this likely will see the final settlement be a small portion of the initial lawsuit.

For Allergan, the settlement will represent simply one less lawsuit to think about. It is currently in hot water over its decision to sell the license of its dry eye drug, Restasis, to a Native American tribe. The decision is currently being widely denounced by Senators and looks set to rumble on for some time.

Ben Hargreaves

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