The U.S. District Court in New Jersey, in Smith et al. v. Merck & Co., Inc., 3:13-cv-02970 (D.N.J.), recently issued a ruling that paves the way for thousands of women across the United States to join a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination against Merck & Co., a large pharmaceutical company.
Judge Shipp conditionally certified a class of current and former female sales representatives. He ruled that “[t]he information submitted by Plaintiffs shows that the sales representatives had similar responsibilities; that named plaintiffs were paid less than some allegedly similarly situated males; and that compensation decisions, although based in part on input from some direct managers, were finalized by a central, common office.” The Judge also based his decision to allow the lawsuit to go forward as a collective action on statistical evidence submitted by Plaintiffs that demonstrated that female sales representatives earned on average 1.4% less per year than male sales representatives in the same roles.
In addition to challenging unequal, centralized pay decisions in their lawsuit against the pharmaceutical giant, the Plaintiffs also allege that Merck systematically discriminates against female sales representatives, and pregnant women in particular, in promotions and other terms and conditions of employment.
We look forward to reporting on the progress of this important case and Plaintiff’s fight for equal pay and equal treatment.