LOS ANGELES, March 18, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Sanford Heisler Kimpel LLP, a leading national public interest law firm, today filed a $50 million nationwide class and collective action against the Valencia, CA-based medical device manufacturer, Boston Scientific Neuromodulation Corporation (BSNC), in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
Felicia Medina, Sanford Heisler Kimpel's California Managing Partner, and Xinying Valerian, Senior Litigation Counsel in the firm's San Francisco office, represent Denise Fretter and Maria Korsgaard, individually and on behalf of a class of similarly situated female employees. Fretter is a Regional Sales Manager at BSNC in Ohio, and Korsgaard was a Territory Manager for the Company in Nevada.
"BSNC maintains an unfair system of gender-stratified compensation," said Medina. "By assigning female sales representatives to less profitable territories, higher quotas and lower commission tiers, the company's upper management artificially and discriminatorily caps their earning capabilities. In effect, BSNC bars female employees from better and higher-paying positions that have traditionally been held by male employees. Its employment practices are illegal, morally wrong and they must come to an end."
The Complaint details systemic violations of the Equal Pay Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act stemming from the company's treatment of the two plaintiffs and class representatives who worked in its sales force hierarchy.
Boston Scientific Corporation acquired BSNC, formerly Advanced Bionics, as a division in June 2007. The division specializes in the sale of devices implanted in the human spine to treat chronic pain. It has a national sales force of approximately 500 employees who are responsible for selling the devices and educating patients and health care providers on their use.
According to the Complaint, BSNC routinely pays its female sales representatives a lower base salary than its male sales representatives and consistently offers female workers lower starting or ongoing salaries and lower position assignments compared to similarly situated male applicants. Even when female sales representatives' sales performance is the same as or better than that of males, male sales representatives are paid more.
The Complaint asserts upon information and belief that prior to 2013, BSNC rarely if ever assigned a female representative to the company's highest commission tier; and that the company's incentive reward structure of bonuses and stock options favors male employees, as does its systems for career promotion and advancement.
BSNC's decisions regarding sales representatives' territory assignments, sales quotas, commission tiers and career promotion and advancement opportunities – all of which influence their earning potential – are made by the company's male-dominated upper management team.
Today's Complaint describes how BSNC's work environment is hostile to female employees, discourages them from complaining of discrimination, and retaliates against those who do.
"Women at BSNC are warned that complaining about gender discrimination is tantamount to committing 'career suicide,'" said Valerian. "This has allowed the company to continue discriminating for years, safe in the knowledge that its female employees are unlikely to take action. Women who speak out against disparate treatment despite this warning are punished. When Ms. Fretter raised an allegation of gender discrimination, the Company further reduced her territory and diminished her ability to make sales."
Both Fretter and Korsgaard filed individual and class charges of discrimination with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in November 2013. The EEOC issued right to sue letters to both plaintiffs in December 2014.
The Complaint asks the court to certify the case as a class action, with Fretter and Korsgaard as class representatives, as well as designate it a collective action on behalf of the proposed Equal Pay Act Collective Action ("EPA") Plaintiffs, and to issue notice to potential EPA opt-ins, so these women are notified of and can promptly join the class if they wish.
The court is also asked to rule BSNC's employment policies, practices and procedures that establish gender discrimination are illegal and in violation of the rights of the Class Representatives and Class members; to issue a permanent injunction preventing the company from continuing to engage in these unlawful practices; and to order BSNC to initiate and implement programs that provide equal employment opportunities for female employees and remedy the effects of its past and current gender discrimination.
BSNC's implementation of training and other company practices to promote gender parity, including establishing a task force on equality and fairness to determine the effectiveness of the requested changes is also requested.
In addition to an award of nominal, compensatory and punitive damages to the Class representatives and Class members of more $50 million, the plaintiffs asked for back pay, front pay, lost benefits, preferential rights to jobs, other damages for lost compensation and job benefits with pre- and post-judgment interest is requested and litigation costs and expenses. A jury trial is requested.
In 2010, Sanford Heisler Kimpel successfully represented a class of 5,600 female sales representatives of Novartis Pharmaceutical Company in similar gender pay and promotion discrimination claims in the largest U.S. gender discrimination case ever to go to trial. A unanimous jury decision in the Southern District of New York found the company liable and awarded 12 former Novartis sales reps $3.36 million in compensatory damages and the class of 5,600 women an additional $250 million in punitive damages. The verdict and the resulting monetary awards are the largest ever in the U.S in an employment gender discrimination matter.
About Sanford Heisler Kimpel
Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP is a public interest class-action litigation law firm with offices in New York, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. Our attorneys have graduated from the nation's top law schools, clerked for judges throughout the United States, and amassed extensive experience litigating cases that have earned over one billion dollars for our clients.
The firm specializes in civil rights and general public interest cases, representing plaintiffs with employment discrimination, labor and wage violations, predatory lending, whistleblower, consumer fraud, and other claims. Along with a focus on class actions, SHK also represents individuals and has achieved particular success in the representation of executives in employment disputes. Learn more at www.sanfordheisler.com.
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SOURCE Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP