"Female sales employees of childbearing age have been cautioned against committing 'career suicide' if they decide to become pregnant, take maternity leave, or seek part-time work schedules at Daiichi," the complaint states. "Women who have been pregnant while working at Daiichi Sankyo have been faced with situations where they were called 'baby makers;' forced to attend work meetings in smoke-filled bars while pregnant; subjected to suspect compensation 'offsets' after returning from maternity leave; discouraged from breastfeeding, and 'managed out' or demoted for complaining about gender discrimination or for becoming pregnant."
The six female plaintiffs are seeking class action status for the case, damages totaling more than $100 million for all the women in the class, adjustment of wages and benefits and awards of back pay, lost benefits and preferential rights to jobs. The suit also seeks an injunction against future discrimination and implementation of policies to provide women with equal employment opportunities.
The law firm handling the case, Sanford Heisler, in May 2010 won a jury verdict of $253 million in compensatory and punitive damages against Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. in another gender discrimination class-action case.
Daiichi Sankyo has a total of more than 30,000 employees worldwide. It sells medicines including the blood thinner Effient, cholesterol drug Welchol, Zelboraf for advanced melanoma and Azur, Benicar and Tribenzor for high blood pressure.