Bayer hit with discrimination suit by six current, ex-employees

Six current and former employees of Bayer Corp.’s HealthCare Pharmaceuticals unit filed a class-action lawsuit against the company yesterday alleging they suffered systematic gender discrimination at the Bayer business in Wayne, N.J.

The women claim they and “hundreds” of other female workers at Bayer were denied adequate pay and promotions, especially if they became pregnant, despite having a history of achievement at Bayer.

“High-ranking company officials within the predominantly male management team foster an environment hostile to the success and advancement of female employees,” the lawsuit stated.

Bayer spokesman Bryan Iams said the Robinson-based corporation denies the allegations of gender discrimination and will vigorously defend itself.

“(Bayer) is committed strongly to a policy of non-discrimination and equal treatment for all employees,” said Iams.

The 12-count complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in New Jersey, seeks unspecified money damages of well over a million dollars for alleged violations of the Equal Pay Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The lawsuit also seeks back pay and other remuneration, and demands Bayer take steps to follow equal employment practices.

For example, one of the six plaintiffs, who became interim director of a division, became so distraught under “undue levels of criticism and hostility” that she experienced a miscarriage in March 2009, the complaint stated.

Another plaintiff, a consumer marketing manager, was publicly “humiliated” by a male vice president when she started to make a company presentation while pregnant, the lawsuit stated. The vice president said she need not use the podium “because her belly was so large.”

The lawsuit asks the court to certify the lawsuit as a class-action on behalf of “hundreds” of female employees in lower to mid-level management positions at Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceutical who have worked there since Nov. 21, 2009.

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