NEW YORK, July 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Sanford Wittels & Heisler, LLP, a leading public interest law firm, today filed a $100 million gender discrimination lawsuit against New York-based Forest Laboratories, Inc. and Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc., in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Forest Pharmaceuticals is a wholly owned subsidiary of Forest Laboratories.
"Forest has engaged in systematic, company-wide discriminatory treatment of female employees based on their gender and pregnancy," said David Sanford, a partner at Sanford Wittels & Heisler and lead attorney for the plaintiffs. "Forest discriminates against women – particularly those who are pregnant or have family responsibilities – by paying them less than their male counterparts, denying them promotions and limiting their employment opportunities."
The named plaintiffs in the matter are former Forest sales representatives Megan Barrett, Lindsey Houser, Jennifer Jones and Jennifer Seard. The women filed individually and on behalf of the class of similarly situated female employees.
Ms. Barrett and Ms. Houser experienced gender discrimination related to their pregnancies, maternity leaves and caregiving responsibilities as working mothers. Ms. Seard experienced similar discrimination and verbal harassment as a result of her gender and her responsibilities caring for a young son who has epilepsy.
Ms. Jones was subjected to offensive sexist and blatant sexual remarks by Forest's male management, who then threatened to jeopardize her career if she told anyone or raised a complaint with the human resources department.
"To make matters worse, when women raise these concerns with Forest management and Human Resources, Forest completely disregards their concerns and instead blames the women themselves for the discrimination they suffer," said Mr. Sanford. "The discrimination is deeply ingrained in Forest's culture. A class action is the only recourse women have to address these grievous wrongs and to restore female employees' rights."
Moreover, the plaintiffs were paid less than similarly situated male employees at Forest, despite their exemplary performance, and were denied bonuses, promotions, and other employment incentives as a result of their gender and their taking maternity leave.
"Forest either does not have or does not follow policies that reduce or eliminate disparate impact on women and gender bias," said Mr. Sanford. "Instead, the company permits the gender stereotypes of Forest's predominately male managerial and supervisory staff to influence the company's personnel decisions. These practices are clearly illegal and must be stopped before other female employees' lives and livelihoods are affected."
Forest Laboratories' (NYSE: FRX) is a global company that develops and markets prescription and non-prescription pharmaceutical products across the United States. The company's revenue in the twelve months that ended March 31, 2011 was $4.4 billion. Forest Pharmaceuticals is one of the 15 largest U.S. pharmaceutical companies and has more than 5,000 employees.
Today's Complaint is not the first time women have filed Complaints alleging gender and pregnancy discrimination at Forest. In the past year, Forest has been named as a defendant in gender and pregnancy discrimination cases filed in Alabama and Ohio.
Today's filing seeks certification of a class as the most efficient and economical means of addressing the questions of law common to the plaintiffs' claims of a systematic pattern and practice of gender discrimination by Forest against its female employees. The Complaint also seeks injunctive relief that includes a restructuring of many of Forest's personnel policies and procedures so that female employees can enjoy the same conditions of employment as Forest's male employees.
The suit also requests back pay, front pay and other equitable remedies that will redress the past discrimination, as well as compensatory damages, punitive damages and court and legal fees as well as a jury trial.
About Sanford Wittels & Heisler, LLP
Sanford Wittels & Heisler is a law firm with offices in Washington, D.C., New York, and San Francisco that specializes in employment discrimination, wage and hour, qui tam and consumer actions and complex corporate class action litigation and has represented thousands of individuals in major class action cases in the United States. The firm also represents individual clients in employment, employment discrimination, sexual harassment, whistleblower, public accommodations, commercial, medical malpractice, and personal injury matters. In May 2010, the firm won the largest jury award in the U.S. in a gender discrimination employment class action when a jury returned a verdict of $253 million in compensatory and punitive damages against Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. For more information, contact Sanford Wittels & Heisler at (202) 499-5200.
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SOURCE Sanford Wittels & Heisler, LLP