Ex-Roche rep wins $1.8M in age discrimination suit

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Hint to pharma companies: Don't let sales managers refer to 50-plus reps as "old school." And if an older employee lodges a complaint about discrimination, investigate thoroughly. These are two takeaways from a federal lawsuit in which a former Roche ($RHHBY) sales rep won about $1.87 million for alleged age discrimination.

Former rep Randy Dossat said in his suit he was 55 years old when a new manager moved in. The manager repeatedly called him "old school," the lawsuit alleges, commented on his "tenure" at the company, and suggested he didn't fit the "new environment." When Dossat complained, Roche higher-ups didn't conduct a thorough investigation, his lawsuit claims. Then, he was retaliated against for his complaints, the suit says.

Apparently the Las Vegas jury agreed: It awarded $168,000 in lost pay and $1.7 million in damages for pain and suffering. "This verdict sends a clear message to employers that they should not retaliate against employees for complaining about discrimination in the workplace," Dossat's attorneys said in a statement.

Roche said it was disappointed in the jury's verdict. "We continue to believe that Mr. Dossat's case has no merit. We plan to appeal and vigorously defend ourselves," the company said in a statement (as quoted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal). "Roche is committed to ethical and lawful personnel practices ... [and] to providing an environment where each individual is respected and supported, and is rewarded on the basis of personal achievement and contribution."

- see the Review-Journal story

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