Daiichi Sankyo, a Japanese manufacturer of pharmaceuticals, faces a class action lawsuit from several women who allege that the company discriminated against women, especially those who were pregnant or mothers. According to the lawsuit filed on behalf of six former employees of the pharma company by law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore, Daiichi Sankyo's conduct violated both state and federal anti-discrimination laws protecting pregnant women.
The employees involved in the complaint allege that Daiichi Sankyo has no men in upper levels of management, and that the male-dominated culture of the executive floors translates into discrimination against women hired at lower levels of the company. Women were promoted less frequently than men, according to the complaint, and were often significantly underpaid compared to their male colleagues.
While the women in the suit state that they were discriminated against even before they became pregnant, pregnancy made the discriminatory behavior of men at Daiichi Sankyo significantly worse. The women allege that once they were pregnant, they were frequently made fun of by male colleagues. One man referred to his female co-worker derogatorily as a “baby-maker,” while others mocked colleagues who had recently returned from maternity leave.
Women working for Daiichi Sankyo were told that pregnancy was “career suicide” and would bring their chances for promotion to a swift end. When women attempted to take maternity leave in accordance with company policies, they were routinely paid less than they should have been, and were later told that even this reduced pay was an overpayment. The women were forced to pay back wages that had already come to them.
The company is also accused of violating state and federal statutes allowing breastfeeding women to take break time to pump breastmilk for their infants. This requirement was not followed by Daiichi Sankyo any time the women working for them were at locations outside of the main company office. Women say they were forced to work long hours while uncomfortable due to being unable to express their breastmilk.
According to the complaint, the company also repeatedly denied mentoring and other career benefits to women that were routinely extended to men. One woman claims that after giving birth, she was transferred to a different location and awarded no relocation expenses—a move she claims was in direct contravention of company policy that was followed for her male colleagues.