* Female sales reps claim bias in pay, bonuses, promotions
* Forest accused of discrimination on basis of pregnancy
* Forest not immediately available for comment
By Jonathan Stempel
July 5 Forest Laboratories Inc was sued
for at least $100 million by four former sales representatives
who accused the New York-based drugmaker of discriminating
against women, including those who become pregnant or care for
Thursday's complaint seeks class-action status, and
compensatory and punitive damages for about 1,500 current and
former female sales representatives at Forest since 2008.
The complaint comes as Forest's management faces growing
criticism from billionaire investor Carl Icahn, its
second-largest shareholder, over governance practices and
The plaintiffs' law firm provided a copy of the complaint,
which is to be filed with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
Forest spokesman Frank Murdolo did not immediately respond
to a request for comment.
According to the complaint, Megan Barrett, Lindsey Houser,
Jennifer Jones and Jennifer Seard said Forest deprived women of
the same pay, bonuses and promotions that men receive.
The women, who said they had left Forest in 2010 or 2011,
also claimed the company lowered internal rankings for women who
take maternity leave, and frowned upon job-share positions to
allow workers to provide care to their children.
Barrett, for example, said her "President's Club" ranking,
which rates workers by how well they meet sales quotas, had
fallen precipitously after each of two maternity leaves.
Seard, meanwhile, said her desire for a job share so she
could care for her epileptic son had led a regional sales
manager to conclude she was "unmotivated" to work.
"Gender discrimination is Forest's standard operating
procedure rather than a sporadic occurrence," the complaint
Barrett lives in Pennsylvania, and the other plaintiffs live
in Texas, according to the complaint.
Their law firm, Sanford Wittels & Heisler, won settlements
of $175 million in 2010 and $99 million in 2012 against Swiss
drugmaker Novartis AG in separate cases involving
Icahn, who has a 9.92 percent stake in Forest, has nominated
four directors in his second proxy fight against the company in
as many years. Last week, he sued in Delaware Chancery Court for
more information about Forest's management and succession plans.
Forest posted net income of $979.1 million on revenue of
$4.59 billion for the year ended March 31. Its top-selling drug,
the antidepressant Lexapro, lost patent protection in March.
The case is Barrett et al v. Forest Laboratories Inc et al,
U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York.