Sex Discrimination Lawsuit Against Cigna Corp
A Cigna Corp employee has filed a sex discrimination lawsuit against the leading health insurer in the U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts, claiming $100 million in damages for gender bias and violation of US Civil Rights Act.
The plaintiff, Bretta Karp, a veteran of 14 years with Cigna Healthcare Inc, claims that the Philadelphia-based health insurer denied her a well-deserved promotion alleging that she "came across as too aggressive" in a job interview, following which she lodged her complaint but was rather punished and stripped of her duties of managing the Vermont market.
The sex discrimination lawsuit, seeking class-action status, claims that Cigna employs its employee-evaluation system to obstruct female employees from getting promotions. The claimant accuses the Philadelphia-based company of barring female workers from reaching higher-paying positions that are traditionally held by male employees.
The sex discrimination lawsuit contends that the company violates Title VII of the 1964 US Civil Rights Act by systematically discriminating against female employees and denying them rightful salary hikes. The lawsuitsuit asserts that the defendant company fosters a hostile work environment, where women are discriminated against men in pay scale, promotions, employment terms, and evaluations.
The complaint accuses the defendant of denying her a promotion in July 2010, following which she was subjected to ongoing gender hostility from her male colleagues. The suit alleges that despite receiving “stellar annual performance reviews,” the plaintiff’s salary level was “downgraded” without a written or oral explanation, whereas another male candidate who had been with the company for merely two years was promoted in her place.
The plaintiff complains that the company alleged that she appeared too aggressive during her telephone interviews, which was the reason she did not get a promotion. The complainant alleges that when she complained against the discriminatory attitude, the officer responsible for filling the position said it was "a style thing."
The suit accuses Cigna Healthcare Inc of violating Massachusetts laws prohibiting gender discrimination, claiming that the defendant uses unfair means to prevent female workers from getting promotions. The plaintiff alleges that gender bias is not a “sporadic occurrence” at Cigna; rather, the “standard operating procedure.”
The plaintiff alleges that the company reassigned the Vermont and New Hampshire markets that she had covered and won awards to less experienced male co-workers while she had been working with Cigna since 1997.
The complainant accuses Cigna of closing its eyes on harassment of female employees at the hands of their male colleagues, who keep intimidating them. The lawsuit alleges that Cigna promotes intimidation and harassment of female employees by ignoring their complaints against male co-workers and not initiating any action against them or investigating them only superficially.
The sex discrimination lawsuit alleges that the disproportionate number of men in supervisor roles is a crude example of gender bias at Cigna. The complainant contends that high-level positions at Cigna are usually reserved for males, thus increasing the gender gap, with women hardly making it to the higher-paying jobs.
The lawsuit asserts that “personal familiarity” between male managers and subordinates is the evaluation tool for promotion and advancement opportunities at Cigna without giving any importance to merit. The plaintiff alleges that subjective performance assessments are the criteria to consider salary level, bonuses, and stock options.
The lawsuit accuses Cigna of carrying out discriminatory practices for evaluation of female workers’ performance, citing the defendant health insurer’s forced ranking performance evaluation system. The plaintiff contends that this system is used to input supervisor’s assessment into a bell curve, which effectively downgrades the superior’s evaluation. The lawsuit accuses Cigna of using forced rankings disproportionately for its female workers, which is a big proof of its gender discrimination practice.
The lawsuit, seeks broad reforms at Cigna throughout the country, looks to represent two subclasses of female employees, whether present, former, or future, at the company: one under Title IV comprising nationwide workers and another one representing Massachusetts workers falling under the Massachusetts General Law.
The lawsuit seeks implementation of new programs at Cigna, which would offer equal opportunities for female workers. The suit also seeks to remedy the impact of discrimination on the lives and careers of female workers. The complainant also seeks to improve working conditions for all female employees at Cigna, who have so far been subjected to a hostile work environment, requiring setting up of a task force to monitor women’s progress, career charts, and career systems to end discriminatory promotions, training, and salary packages.
The lawsuit seeks a ruling that would turn Cigna into an equal opportunity employer so that none of the future and present female workers will again be subjected to gender bias like the complainant and thousands of other female employees at Cigna offices who are suffering from systemic sex discrimination working at the organization.
The complainant had earlier filed a complaint against Cigna for treating females “less favorably” than men with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Leading organizations and employers like Cigna are setting bad examples of sex discrimination for others to follow. Therefore, Cigna is guilty of perpetuating gender discrimination and is liable to compensate Ms. Karp.
Other Similar Gender Bias Lawsuits
Numerous cases of gender bias have been reported in leading organizations in the country. It is hard to note that, even in this time and age, gender bias is ruling the roast in the country. Gender discrimination means unequal treatment of the fairer sex at a time when both genders must be treated equal, having fair opportunities. According to a White House report, women in the country earn 75 percent less than their male colleagues, which speaks high volumes of gender bias.
Last year, Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG was sued by its female employees, claiming gender bias at one of its divisions. The case was decided in favor of the plaintiff and the defendant company was asked to pay $250 million in damages. The pharmaceutical Swiss company paid $175 million to settle the class-action lawsuit.
In January 2011, a senior woman human resources manager sued Toshiba Corp for perpetuating gender discrimination within the organization. The multi-million dollar class-action lawsuit seeks to represent all past and present female employees of the giant technology company in the United States. The plaintiff claims that women are channeled into lower paying positions in the organization and discriminated against their male co-workers.
Similar lawsuits have also been brought against popular organizations, such as Wal-Mart, Goldman Sachs, and Costco Wholesale Corporation, among others.