Cigna Employee Seeks $100m in Discrimination Suit

Posted March 3rd, 2011.

As it appeared in the Boston Globe

Globe Staff

A woman in the Boston office of Cigna Health Care Inc. is seeking $100 million in damages in a lawsuit that alleges that the health care provider systematically discriminates against women by fostering a hostile work environment and by denying women rightful salary increases.

Specifically, the suit alleges that Philadelphia-based Cigna treated Karp and other female employees less favorably than male employees in similar positions by denying women promotions and pay raises that they were entitled to.

The class action lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for Massachusetts in Boston today, said Sanford Wittels & Heisler LLP, the Washington, D.C., law firm that is representing the plaintiff in the case.

Cigna officials did not immediately have comment.

The plaintiff is Bretta Karp, who joined Cigna as contracting manager in 1997, Sanford Wittels & Heisler said. Karp has held a number of positions at Cigna and received “stellar annual performance reviews.” Nevertheless, her salary level was “downgraded without explanation while male employees with her same qualifications were put in a higher level salary band,” Sanford Wittels & Heisler said in a press release.

The lawsuit also alleges that “pervasive gender discrimination at Cigna prevented Ms. Karp from advancing into higher and better paying positions and subjected her to active and ongoing gender hostility from her male co-workers,” the law firm said.

Karp continues to work for Cigna, a spokeswoman for the law firm said.

Besides monetary damages, the lawsuit seeks changes at Cigna to prevent “continued gender discrimination” at the company, the law firm said.

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