Fired Pfizer rep sues, claiming pregnancy-related discrimination

A Pfizer ($PFE) sales rep has sued the company, saying she was fired because of her pregnancy, Pharmalot reports. Marie Hand, who repped for King Pharmaceuticals when Pfizer bought the company, says she notified the company she was pregnant just weeks after her district manager took over in a post-buyout transition--and was terminated several months later.

Apparently, the company cited fraudulent expense reports in terminating Hand. The lawsuit acknowledges some trouble with expense-report mistakes, which Hand says she subsequently corrected. The rep's lawsuit goes on to claim that other reps filed expense reports for personal charges, but no one else was "reprimanded or terminated" for that reason. Hand claims that Pfizer used the expense-report dispute as a "pretext" for her firing.

"We have reviewed the allegations contained in this complaint and believe that they have no merit," Pfizer told Pharmalot. "Furthermore, Pfizer does not discriminate based on gender or pregnancy."

Hand's lawsuit follows a few class-action lawsuits in which female employees claimed they were discriminated against--paid less and promoted less often than men. Novartis ($NVS) employees won their discrimination suit, which included pregnancy-related discrimination claims; the company later settled for more than $150 million. Sanofi ($SNY) reps settled their claims with the company for $15.4 million. A class action against Bayer HealthCare is pending; that case includes sexual harassment claims. In those cases, of course, groups of women initiated the complaints, rather than one plaintiff.

- read the Pharmalot coverage