News: AstraZeneca Agrees to Pay $250,000 to Settle Sex Discrimination Lawsuit

AstraZeneca, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, will pay $250,000 to 124 women who were subjected to pay discrimination while working at the corporation's Philadelphia Business Center in Wayne, Pa. The action resolves a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor in May 2010 alleging that the company discriminated against female sales specialists by paying them salaries that were, on average, $1,700 less than their male counterparts.

The department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs conducted a scheduled compliance review of the business center in 2002 and found that AstraZeneca had violated Executive Order 11246 by failing to meet its obligations as a federal contractor to ensure employees were paid fairly without regard to sex, race, color, religion and national origin. AstraZeneca holds a contract valued at more than $2 billion with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide pharmaceutical products to hospitals and medical centers around the country.

"Forty-eight years after President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, women are still fighting for fundamental fairness when it comes to how we are paid," said OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu, a member of President Obama's National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force. "I am glad AstraZeneca finally has agreed to pay its employees what they've earned. More importantly, we look forward to working with the company's management to make sure this does not happen again to anyone who works for AstraZeneca."

Under a consent decree and order filed with the department's Office of Administrative Law Judges, in addition to making financial restitution, the company has agreed to work with OFCCP to conduct a statistical analysis of the base pay of 415 individuals employed full time as "primary care" and "specialty care" level III pharmaceutical sales specialists in Alabama, Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. If the analysis concludes that female employees continue to be underpaid, the company will adjust salaries accordingly.

Finally, AstraZeneca has agreed to develop and annually update its affirmative action plan and keep all supporting documentation as required by law. If the company fails to comply with the consent decree, it may be subject to sanctions, including cancellation of its current federal contract and debarment from acquiring future ones.

In addition to Executive Order 11246, OFCCP's legal authority exists under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. As amended, these three laws hold those who do business with the federal government, both contractors and subcontractors, to the fair and reasonable standard that they not discriminate in employment on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran. For general information, call OFCCP's toll-free helpline at 800-397-6251. Additional information is also available at http://www.dol.gov/ofccp.

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