Appeals court sends Wyeth case for retrial

Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) will have to fight a former Wyeth employee's claims once again. Howard Henry, a former Wyeth chemist and engineer, sued the company for discrimination, and although he lost the battle at trial, a U.S. appeals court has now resurrected part of his suit.

Henry is one of several workers who sued Wyeth alleging discrimination against African American employees at the drugmaker's campus in Pearl River, New York, Reuters reports. Henry began working for American Cyanamid, Wyeth's predecessor, in 1992, as a temporary employee. He became a full-time chemist the following year, and was promoted to the position of Scientist II in 1998. In 2000, he was promoted again; however, after his promotion to production engineer, Henry's upward progress stalled, according to the decision.

Henry maintains Wyeth not only denied him promotions, but engineered a series of punishments designed to keep him from getting ahead at the company. He left the company in 2005.

The Second Circuit rejected Henry's claims of racial discrimination. But it revived claims that the company had retaliated against him for his complaints, saying the jury had been instructed improperly. "Henry's evidence of retaliation, while not overwhelming, was sufficiently strong that a jury could have returned a verdict in his favor, if properly instructed," Judge Pierre Leval writes.

A Pfizer spokesman tells Reuters that the company is "confident that Mr. Henry was not retaliated against in the case." We'll hear more on this one as the suit nears retrial.

- check out the court's decision
- read the Reuters story