Muslim/Turkish Woman Sufficiently Alleges Gender, National Origin, and Religious Discrimination Against Sandoz

In Demir v. Sandoz Inc. and Fougera Pharmaceuticals¬†(NY Sup. Ct. NY Cty., Index 150954/2015, Feb. 17, 2017), the court held that plaintiff – a Muslim woman of Turkish national origin – sufficiently alleged causes of action for discrimination and hostile work environment (based on her gender, national origin, and religion) under the New York State Human Rights Law, as well as for retaliatory discharge under New York’s whistleblower statute (NY Labor Law 740).[1]Plaintiff’s Labor Law 740 claim was based on her allegation that defendants “unlawfully terminated her in retaliation for her reporting to management that the manufacturer of the purported active pharmaceutical ingredient in Solaraze was not in compliance with certain FDA rules and regulations that ensure public health and safety.” Here I’ll focus on the court’s evaluation of plaintiff’s discrimination claims as asserted in her second amended complaint.

As to her gender discrimination claims, the court noted that plaintiff alleged that “she and other wom[e]n were subjected to a ‘double standard’ because she was a woman” and that she and other women “dealt with a male dominated management at Sandoz/Fougera [which] acted as if they were in a ‘boy’s club’ where, in addition to the ‘locker room’ jokes designed to demean women in general, and plaintiff in particular, it was considered improper for wom[e]n to speak up during meetings or to assert themselves in any meaningful way.” Plaintiff also alleged that “women who carried themselves in a sexualized, flirtatious manner were rewarded with perks and bonuses despite their lack of qualifications.”

As to her national origin/religious discrimination claims, the court noted that plaintiff alleged that a vice president told plaintiff that “we’re going to need a translator for you”, in reference to the fact that plaintiff spoke English with a strong Turkish accent, and that plaintiff “was also frequently subjected to sarcastic and inappropriate comments about her religion.”

References
1 Plaintiff’s Labor Law 740 claim was based on her allegation that defendants “unlawfully terminated her in retaliation for her reporting to management that the manufacturer of the purported active pharmaceutical ingredient in Solaraze was not in compliance with certain FDA rules and regulations that ensure public health and safety.”
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