Merck Gender Pregnancy Discrimination Class Action

Case Type: Gender Discrimination

Company: Merck & Co.

UPDATE: On April 27, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey granted Plaintiffs’ motion to conditionally certify a collective action under the Equal Pay Act in the gender discrimination suit filed against pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., Inc. The Court further ordered that thousands of female Merck sales representatives should be given notice and an opportunity to join the case. The lawsuit alleges that Merck systematically discriminates against female sales representatives generally, and against pregnant women in particular, in pay, promotions, and other terms and conditions of employment. The Court found that Plaintiffs’ allegations of discrimination in pay sufficed to warrant notifying potential class members of the EPA lawsuit. Plaintiffs’ evidence included information suggesting that Named Plaintiffs were paid less than men they identified as comparators, as well as a preliminary expert report finding those female sales representatives in the S1 and S2 tiers earned less per year on average than male sales representatives in those tiers.


The Court’s decision also affirmed that an internal Merck policy purporting to govern contact between Merck employees and “third parties” does not bar Merck female sales representatives from communicating with Plaintiffs’ counsel and joining this lawsuit.

For a media interview, please contact Sanford Heisler Sharp Senior Litigation Counsel Russell Kornblith at 646-512-8609 or Co-Lead Counsel Deborah Marcuse at 410-204-5510.

In May 2013, Kelli Smith filed a class action lawsuit in New Jersey federal court alleging that pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., Inc. (“Merck”) discriminates against female employees in its sales force in pay and promotions. Ms. Smith also claims that Merck discriminates against pregnant women and women who take maternity leave.

Early in 2014, several other women from across the country who had experienced similar discrimination at Merck joined Ms. Smith’s lawsuit. They too alleged class-wide discrimination against female employees in pay and promotion, and on the basis of pregnancy. Although Merck sought to have the Plaintiffs’ claims dismissed, the court denied Merck’s request.

Plaintiffs’ Equal Pay Act Claims Against Merck

The Plaintiffs’ claims include claims of discriminatory compensation under the Equal Pay Act (EPA). The EPA requires that men and women in the same workplace be given equal pay for equal work. If you are or were a female Merck Sales Representative employed for at least one day from March 5, 2012, through the present you may be eligible to join this lawsuit.

In April 2016, the Court granted Plaintiffs’ request to issue notice to all current and former female sales representatives who were employed in the S1 or S2 positions at Merck for at least one day between March 5, 2012, until the present, informing them of their right to opt into the EPA portion of this lawsuit. The decision cited evidence submitted by Plaintiffs, which shows “that the sales representatives had similar responsibilities; that named plaintiffs were paid less than some allegedly similarly situated males; and those compensation decisions, although based in part on input from some direct managers, were finalized by a central, common office.” The Court also cited an expert report submitted by Plaintiffs, which found statistically significant differences in compensation between male and female sales representatives working for Merck.

On June 13, 2016, a court-approved notice was mailed to over 3000 current and former female Merck sales representatives, who have until August 12, 2016, to join the EPA portion of this lawsuit.

If you received a copy of this notice and/or have questions about this lawsuit, you may contact our office at any time by calling 646-512-8609 or by emailing [email protected].

Retaliation is Illegal

Federal law prohibits defendants from taking any action against you because you express interest in or elect to join this collective action, or otherwise exercise or assert rights guaranteed under the Equal Pay Act or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Likewise, it is illegal for Defendants to retaliate against you for providing information relevant to this lawsuit that may support the Plaintiffs’ claims. Attorneys from Sanford Heisler Sharp are on call to ensure that these rights are protected.

For More Information About this Case or About Your Rights: