News Feature | March 20, 2015

Boston Scientific Slapped With $50M Suit Over Alleged Gender Discrimination

By Jof Enriquez
Follow me on Twitter @jofenriq

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A subsidiary of Boston Scientific has been hit with a gender discrimination suit filed by a current executive and a former manager. The plaintiffs are seeking $50 million in damages plus back pay and other lost job benefits from the company.

Denise Fretter, a regional sales manager in Ohio, and Maria Korsgaard, a former territory manager in Nevada, claimed in their class action suit filed recently that Boston Scientific Neuromodulation Corp. (BSNC) willfully discriminated against them and other female employees by assigning women less profitable sales territories than male counterparts and denying just compensation, according to the Boston Globe.

"BSNC maintains an unfair system of gender-stratified compensation," Felicia Medina, lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in a statement.

"By assigning female sales representatives to less profitable territories, higher quotas and lower commission tiers, the company's upper management artificially and discriminatorily caps their earning capabilities," said Medina. "In effect, BSNC bars female employees from better and higher-paying positions that have traditionally been held by male employees. Its employment practices are illegal, morally wrong and they must come to an end."

Per the statement, the plaintiffs also allege that female employees of BSNC have lower base salaries and are awarded lower incentives even if they outperform their male colleagues. Moreover, decisions over promotion, area assignments, and sales quotas have been unfavorably made by the company's male-dominated upper management team.

Plaintiffs are seeking an award of nominal, compensatory, and punitive damages worth more than $50 million, according to the statement. In addition, they are seeking an unspecified amount of back pay, front pay, lost benefits, damages for lost compensation, job benefits with pre- and post-judgment interest, as well as litigation costs and expenses.

BSNC, which sells spinal cord stimulation (SCS) implants for chronic pain, was acquired by Boston Scientific in 2007 to grow its neuromodulation business. According to a 2015 iData Research study, Boston Scientific has since significantly grown its market share in this segment despite not having been in the SCS market as long as market leader Medtronic.

A representative for Boston Scientific issued a response to the gender discrimination suit by saying that diversity is a core value of the company, and it is committed to equal employment opportunities.

“We believe this case lacks merit and is led by a law firm known for filing many similar complaints against companies,” spokeswoman Nisha Deo said in an email statement to the Globe.

The plaintiffs are represented by Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP. The law firm noted in its statement that it won in 2010 a similar gender discrimination trial in New York where jurors ordered Novartis to pay 12 former female sales reps $3.36 million in compensatory damages, and a class of 5,600 women an additional $250 million in punitive damages.

More recently, the same firm filed a $110 million gender discrimination suit against Novartis subsidiary Alcon, according to the Globe.