Merck Gender Pregnancy Discrimination Class Action

Case name: Kelli Smith, et al. v. Merck & Co.

Case type: Gender Discrimination

Filed in: U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey

Case no.: 3:13-cv-02970

Case Summary

On May 9, 2013, Sanford Heisler Sharp filed a class action lawsuit under the federal Equal Pay Act (“EPA”) against Merck & Co., alleging that the pharmaceutical giant discriminated against its female sales force, and against pregnant women and women who take maternity leave in particular, in pay, promotions, and other terms and conditions of employment.

In April 2016, the Court granted class certification on Plaintiffs’ allegations of discrimination in pay under the EPA. 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.

By July 2016, more than 400 women had joined the class action litigation.

In July 2019, the Court approved a settlement of $6.2 million. The class had grown to 2,900 members.