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Feds accuse AstraZeneca of underpaying 318 female and Hispanic employees – Endpoints News

By October 5, 2021COVID-19

Just a few months af­ter pay­ing $2.4 mil­lion in dam­ages to a for­mer sales man­ag­er who al­leged re­tal­i­a­tion for whistle­blow­ing, As­traZeneca is back in hot wa­ter over the way it treats em­ploy­ees — and once again, it’s go­ing to cost the com­pa­ny.

The British phar­ma has agreed to pay $560,000 in back pay and in­ter­est to re­solve al­leged race- and gen­der-based pay dis­crim­i­na­tion af­fect­ing 318 fe­male and His­pan­ic em­ploy­ees.

The al­le­ga­tions sur­faced af­ter a rou­tine fed­er­al com­pli­ance in­ves­ti­ga­tion found that As­traZeneca un­der­paid 23 His­pan­ic em­ploy­ees in pri­ma­ry care sales, and 295 women in spe­cial­ty care sales from Oct. 1, 2015, to Sept. 30, 2016, ac­cord­ing to the US De­part­ment of La­bor.

Michele Hodge

“The U.S. De­part­ment of La­bor is com­mit­ted to com­bat­ing pay dis­crim­i­na­tion and en­sur­ing fair com­pen­sa­tion for all em­ploy­ees,” Of­fice of Fed­er­al Con­tract Com­pli­ance Pro­grams act­ing re­gion­al di­rec­tor Michele Hodge said in a state­ment. “Fed­er­al con­trac­tors are re­quired by law to com­ply with all equal em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ty reg­u­la­tions.”

Dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, As­traZeneca struck a $1.2 bil­lion con­tract with the De­part­ment of the Army to sup­port its Covid-19 vac­cine de­vel­op­ment — an ef­fort which has, so far, not turned up an FDA-au­tho­rized shot.

In ad­di­tion to shelling out the back pay and in­ter­est, As­traZeneca has agreed to rem­e­dy cur­rent pay dis­par­i­ties, and iden­ti­fy an in­di­vid­ual re­spon­si­ble for mon­i­tor­ing en­force­ment of Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der 11246, which pro­hibits race and gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion by fed­er­al con­trac­tors. The com­pa­ny al­so has to sub­mit progress re­ports with com­pen­sa­tion da­ta for at least the next two years.

“While As­traZeneca does not agree with OFC­CP’s find­ings, it is pleased to have re­solved this mat­ter re­lat­ed to al­le­ga­tions from the 2016 au­dit,” a spokesper­son told End­points News. “As­traZeneca is com­mit­ted to fair and eq­ui­table em­ploy­ment prac­tices, and has im­ple­ment­ed ap­pro­pri­ate mea­sures to en­sure the con­tin­u­a­tion of equal em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ty and eq­ui­table com­pen­sa­tion poli­cies and prac­tices for all em­ploy­ees.”

The news comes about three months af­ter a fed­er­al ju­ry in Ore­gon de­ter­mined that As­traZeneca vi­o­lat­ed the state’s whistle­blow­er statute, award­ing for­mer sales man­ag­er Suzanne Ivie $2.4 mil­lion in dam­ages. Ivie tes­ti­fied that she was fired af­ter re­peat­ed­ly warn­ing As­traZeneca that an ex­ec­u­tive was plan­ning to mar­ket an­ti-in­flam­ma­to­ry drugs for off-la­bel use.

“Suzanne alert­ed As­traZeneca to bad be­hav­ior and, in­stead of fix­ing the prob­lem, the com­pa­ny pun­ished her,” Ani­ta Mazum­dar Cham­bers, a prin­ci­pal of the law firm rep­re­sent­ing Ivie, said in a state­ment.

Ivie’s com­plaint came sev­er­al years af­ter the phar­ma paid $520 mil­lion back in 2010 to re­solve al­le­ga­tions that it il­le­gal­ly mar­ket­ed the an­tipsy­chot­ic drug Sero­quel for off-la­bel use.

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