AstraZeneca agreed to pay $250,000 to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit brought by the US Department of Labor on behalf of 124 female sales reps working out of the firm's Philadelphia Business Center in Wayne, PA. The suit accused AstraZeneca of discriminating against female sales specialists by paying them salaries averaging $1,700 less than their male colleagues.
This was not the first documented case of the company negating to fairly pay its employees, the Department of Labor argued. According to a statement released by the agency in 2002, the organization's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) carried out a scheduled compliance review of the Wayne, PA office. AstraZeneca was found to have failed to meet its obligations as a contractor “to ensure employees were paid fairly without regard to sex, race, color, religion and national origin.” The company holds a contract with the US Department of Veteran Affairs – valued at more than $2 billion – which provides pharma products to hospitals and medical centers nationwide.
In addition to the monetary settlement, AstraZeneca agreed to conduct statistical analysis of the base pay of 415 full-time employees who hold the titles of “primary care” and “specialty care” level III pharma sales specialists in more than 10 states. The company will adjust salaries accordingly if the data shows that women continue to be underpaid and will develop and update annually an affirmative action plan.
OFCCP director Patricia Shiu, who is also a member of President Obama's National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force, said in a statement, “Forty-eight years after President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, women are still fighting for fundamental fairness when it comes to how we are paid. I am glad AstraZeneca finally has agreed to pay its employees what they've earned. More importantly, we look forward to working with the company's management to make sure this does not happen again to anyone who works for AstraZeneca.”
AstraZeneca spokesperson Tony Jewel told MM&M via email: “We reached this agreement to resolve the matter without further legal proceedings. We are confident that our compensation practices then and now are fair and non-discriminatory – and this settlement supports our position.”