AbbVie slapped with age discrimination lawsuit, following other pharmas
Add AbbVie to the list of pharma companies currently facing age discrimination allegations.
Pennsylvania resident Thomas Hesch filed suit against AbbVie on Wednesday, accusing the company of passing him over for promotions in favor of younger candidates.
Despite 30 years of pharma experience, “Hesch has consistently seen younger, less qualified employees promoted over him,” the complaint states.
He was originally an employee of Forest Pharmaceuticals, a former subsidiary of Allergan, where he was promoted to specialty sales representative in 2011 before the company was acquired by AbbVie in 2020. Some of Hesch’s claims involve incidents that occurred before AbbVie’s $63 billion takeover.
In September 2018, Hesch said he was among the final two candidates interviewed for a district manager position, but lost the job to a younger candidate who lived outside of the geographic area the position covered, according to court documents. He was 60 years old at the time.
After reaffirming his interest in a management position, Hesch enrolled in AbbVie’s Emerging Leaders Developmental Program (ELDP). However, he was passed over for yet another district manager position in 2021, in favor of a candidate less than half his age. Hesch alleged that several comments about his retirement were made during interviews, but he assured the company he would work for at least another five years.
Hesch also claimed that he recommended a 57-year-old colleague for another position who didn’t get the job. The interviewer allegedly told Hesch that another manager said the candidate was “too old.”
AbbVie has not responded to a request for comment as of press time.
The complaint marks the latest in a suite of recent age discrimination allegations filed against Big Pharma companies.
Back in June, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) got involved in an age discrimination case against Novo Nordisk, filed by an obesity care specialist who was denied a lateral transfer back in 2018. In that case, a district manager allegedly told the specialist that he wanted someone who would be in the position “long term,” and selected a 33-year-old for the job. Novo filed a motion to dismiss the case back in September.
Eli Lilly faced similar allegations last September, when two plaintiffs accused the company of hiring younger workers on the basis of physical attractiveness. The plaintiffs, one of whom was laid off from a Lilly sales rep position, said they applied for several positions at Lilly but didn’t make it past the first interview stage. An Indiana federal court denied Lilly’s motion to dismiss the case in August.
Back in 2018, Teva was ordered to pay more than $6 million in damages in an age and nationality discrimination lawsuit.