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Quest Diagnostics faces gender discrimination suit

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A $100 million class-action lawsuit was announced today against Quest Diagnostics Inc. and its Ameripath Inc. subsidiary, alleging Quest systematically discriminated against female employees.

The suit alleges that high-ranking Quest officials foster an environment hostile to the success and advancement of female employees and promoting an “old boys’ club” attitude, giving junior male employees disproportionate access to resources and exposure to decision makers.

The law firm Sanford, Wittels & Heisler LLP said it was filing the case in U.S. District Court in Newark against the diagnostic testing company. An official in the clerk’s office said it can take several days before being able to confirm the filing; Quest released a statement saying that it had not been served with the complaint and had not seen a copy of it.

“Quest Diagnostics is an equal-opportunity employer. We are proud to be routinely recognized as a top employer in communities around the U.S.,” the statement said.

Indiana resident Erin Beery and Florida resident Heather Traeger filed the suit on behalf of other Quest employees.

“Quest has known, or should have known. that its business practices have an illegal, disparate impact on women, employees with family responsibilities and pregnant employees,” said David Sanford, the plaintiffs’ lead attorney, in a statement. “However, it has consistently failed to adopt measures to rectify this pervasive discrimination that its discriminatory policies, practices and procedures creates.”

The plaintiffs alleged Quest’s male employees — and in some cases, women without primary childcare responsibilities — have advanced more rapidly than women with those responsibilities.

The lawsuit also said Quest doesn’t provide sufficient oversight or safety measures to protect women from intentional and overt discrimination, citing a lack of internal incentives or disciplinary measures to ensure managers and executives comply with company discrimination policies and equal employment laws.

The suit said the company used two women it placed in upper management to encourage the “old boys’ club.” Of 17 top Quest managers, four are women, and of nine members of the board of directors, two are women, according to the suit. Five of the top 27 AmeriPath executives are women, the suit said.

The plaintiffs are seeking declaratory and injunctive relief; back pay; front pay; compensatory, nominal and punitive damages; and attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses.

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