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Lawsuit alleges gender bias against female Bayer employees in US

It seems that there is no shortage of workplace discrimination lawsuits in the news lately. Unfortunately, many of these lawsuits involve national or even global corporations and employees who allege widespread gender discrimination.

If gender discrimination is practiced as company policy by any national corporation, it does not matter where the discrimination charges originate. The effects of that policy will certainly be felt by employees in South Florida.

Bayer Corporation, one of the world's leading drug manufacturers, is currently facing a gender discrimination lawsuit. Although the company has German headquarters, the lawsuit was filed by employees in the company's US operations.

The lawsuit was initially filed in March but has recently expanded to include two more plaintiffs. A total of 8 women now allege that Bayer engaged in discrimination against female sales representatives. The allegations include disparity in pay and promotions opportunities, pregnancy discrimination and fostering a hostile work environment.

The two women who recently joined the lawsuit claim that they have experienced disparaging and sexual comments from male supervisors and coworkers.

A top-performing sales consultant who worked for Bayer for 13 years claims that her supervisor would tell her she was being "difficult" when she tried to discuss career advancement. Additionally, when asking work-related questions, she often received hostile answers such as: "are you dumb?"

Another female employee in the lawsuit says that she has received inappropriate sexual comments from a senior lawyer in her unit. She claims he made comments such as "thank you very much for wearing that shirt." On another occasion, during a CPR training course, this same man allegedly told another female employee: "I really like how you look on all fours."

Bayer denies the allegations that it denies women higher-paying jobs and that it condones harassment. But with so many women coming forward with their own stories, the allegations are becoming harder to deny.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs say that this case now covers at least several hundred female employees, and potentially more than 1,000. The 8 plaintiffs in the case are seeking $100 million in damages.

Source: Thomson Reuters Westlaw News, "Bayer faces wider U.S. gender bias lawsuit," Jonathan Stempel, 25 May 2011

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