Amid rush of scandals, Eli Lilly settles sex discrimination, harassment suit with former lobbyist

Just three months after a former Eli Lilly lobbyist charged the company’s top brass with repeated sexual discrimination and undue retaliation in a bombshell lawsuit, the company has settled the case out of court.

Sonya Elling, a longtime biopharma lobbyist who worked in Lilly's government affairs operation, first sued the company back in March, alleging a high-level executive and manager mistreated her because she is female. With a confidential settlement, Elling is dropping her case.

In her suit, Elling said her managers allegedly excluded her from key meetings, disparaged her internally and externally and scuppered her reputation.

RELATED: On the heels of CFO scandal, former Eli Lilly exec alleges sex discrimination, harassment in bombshell lawsuit

The settlement, filed on Monday, didn’t disclose the terms of the agreement. The former employee originally sued Lilly under the Civil Rights Act and sought back pay, front pay, emotional distress damages, reputational damages and more. 

A spokesperson for the company declined to comment on the settlement. However, the Indianapolis-based drugmaker previously told Fierce Pharma that Lilly is "committed to fostering and promoting a culture of diversity and respect, and a work environment free of discrimination, harassment or retaliation of any kind."

Eli Lilly has been no stranger to bombshell personnel scandals in recent months. This case follows the high-level departure of Lilly’s former CFO Josh Smiley after a probe discovered  "consensual though inappropriate personal communications” between Smiley and other Lilly employees. 

RELATED: Eli Lilly CFO steps down—and gives up $24M-plus in cash and equity—after investigation finds 'inappropriate' behavior

Meanwhile, a Lilly manufacturing site in Branchburg, New Jersey, is in the midst of a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) probe after employees at the plant expressed concern that an executive altered FDA-required documents in an effort to downplay serious quality control problems, Reuters first reported

Lilly, which conducted its own internal investigation into the matter, has denied wrongdoing. 

Meanwhile, a former human resources employee at Lilly’s New Jersey site previously claimed she was ousted from her job after raising concerns over its quality controls, record keeping and staff shortages, although she has not sued the company, the news service reported in March.