The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Lilly USA Monday, alleging that the pharma company failed to hire older sales representatives from 2017 to 2021.
The EEOC said that starting in 2017, Lilly changed its hiring preferences and chose to hire more young candidates rather than older candidates. The federal agency stated that this practice violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which prohibits discrimination against applicants 40 and older.
According to a data breakdown from Zippia, the average age of medical sales representatives is over the age of 40, representing 70% of the workforce.
The EEOC filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.
“Older Americans are working longer and in larger numbers than ever before,” Robert Weisberg, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Miami District, said in a statement. “This case underscores the continued need for the EEOC to break down barriers to employment for those older workers.”
In September 2021, Lilly was sued by two applicants for sales representative positions who said they weren’t hired because of their age.
Lilly is the latest pharma company to find itself in the crosshairs of an age discrimination lawsuit leveled by the EEOC. Earlier this year, the agency sued Novo Nordisk over accusations of age discrimination.
According to its most recent earnings report, Lilly recorded declines in both revenues and net income. For the full year, Lilly said it expects its revenue to be between $28.8 billion and $29.3 billion.
Still, despite the top line slide in Q2, the company announced in August that it would shift its COVID-19 monoclonal antibody therapy from contract to commercial sales.