A former Bayer Healthcare employee has filed a discrimination complaint against the company, claiming she experienced disparate treatment due to her race and was subsequently fired by the defendant for reasons that the plaintiff alleges were pretextual.
Attorney Timothy M. Kolman filed a civil complaint Sept. 11 at the federal court in Philadelphia on behalf of his client, Philadelphia resident Shannon N. Davis, who maintains that she was discharged from her job of more than a decade for reasons she claims were unjustifiable.
Davis, the complaint says, was hired as a sales representative for the defendant’s Animal Health Division back in the summer of 2001.
Eleven years later, Davis, who is black, ranked fourth in national sales and first in the region, receiving the Bayer Council Trip, an award given to the top 10 percent of employees in the national sales category.
Last year, Davis was even set to be promoted to a higher position within the company, the complaint states, but that promise never materialized.
The plaintiff contends that the scuttled plans could be traced back to her treatment by a man identified as John Schott, who became Davis’s regional manager in the fall of 2001, and remaining in that position until June 2003.
The lawsuit says that from the first day Schott met the plaintiff and saw that she was African American, “he attempted to discredit her competency.”
“The first thing he did was share with the entire team, on her first day with him, that she had had a $25,000 return of product,” the complaint reads. “Plaintiff had to remind Schott that the Philadelphia territory had been vacant for two years and that the return had nothing whatever to do with her sales ability but rather, the former representative had oversold product to the hospital and the hospital had not been serviced for over two years.”
Throughout Schott’s tenure as Davis’s manager, the suit states, when the woman was given her regular sales goals, Schott regularly said that Davis could double the goals she had received, “thereby indicating that her goal was artificially less than others or simple to achieve,” the complaint states.
“For these reasons, even when Plaintiff made her goal, her efforts were not valued because she had not ‘doubled’ her goal.’”
The suit goes on to say that during a dinner outing with Davis and her then-male companion, Schott said that both Davis and the boyfriend had benefitted from affirmative action, and that Schott had been unable to get admitted to veterinary school because of such a policy.
Schott also allegedly told the boyfriend, who was also black, that the man had the “world in his hands” because he was smart and articulate “and most black men were not,” according to the lawsuit.
The complaint also states that during a company conference in Atlantic City in October 2002, one of the plaintiff’s colleagues told Davis that “John has pegged you correctly, you are lazy!”
The following February, the lawsuit states, Davis was told she was being placed on probation for work related performance issues, and she was also told that she could face termination if the issues were not corrected.
After Schott was promoted to sales operations manager in 2004, where he worked out of the Kansas home office, he continued to discredit Davis’s sales abilities to the woman’s then-new regional manager, the suit states.
In January of this year, a supervisor informed Davis that the plaintiff had apparently violated the company’s credit card policy by making personal charges on a Bayer Healthcare credit card, leaving the bill unpaid for two months.
Davis said it was common practice for employees to use the card for all purchases, although she admitted to never having submitted personal charges for expense reimbursement.
Instead, Davis maintained that she paid the charges off herself, the suit says.
A human resources representative agreed that such a practice was common, but then said that Davis’s account was 60 days overdue, and that she was being discharged from her position as a consequence of that action, according to the lawsuit.
When questioned by Davis, however, the representative admitted that other employees who engage in the same practice have not faced termination.
“It is believed and therefore averred, that John Schott, who continually manifested a racial animus towards Plaintiff, was partially or perhaps entirely responsible for singling out the Plaintiff for disparate treatment on the basis of her race,” the complaint reads. “In any even, Plaintiff was treated in a disparate and racially discriminatory manner, when compared to her peers.”
The suit says that Davis’s promotion was “deliberately and willfully scuttled by Defendant solely because of her race,” and that the reason for the plaintiff’s firing was “bogus, pretextual and ridiculous given her excellent sales record.”
An allegedly less qualified and “far less experienced” white candidate was chosen as Davis’s replacement in April of this year.
Davis seeks to have the company permanently enjoined from discriminating against workers on the basis of race.
The plaintiff also seeks compensatory damages in the form of front and back pay, salary increases, medical and other benefits, promotions, pension and seniority.
Davis also seeks unspecified punitive damages, costs, attorney’s fees and other relief.
The federal case number is 2:13-cv-05281-MMB.