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Boston Scientific firm hit with $50m gender discrimination suit

A female former manager and a current executive say a Boston Scientific Corp. subsidiary assigns female representatives to less profitable territories and gives them higher quotas and lower commissions than male counterparts.Bloomberg News/File

A female former manager and a current executive are suing a California subsidiary of Boston Scientific Corp. for $50 million, asserting that the medical device company discriminates against female sales representatives by assigning them to less profitable territories and giving them higher quotas and lower commissions than male counterparts.

Plaintiffs Denise Fretter, a regional sales manager in Ohio, and Maria Korsgaard, a former territory manager in Nevada, state in the suit that Boston Scientific Neuromodulation Corp., in Valencia, Calif., pays its female sales reps less than males, even when they outperform the men.

“BSNC maintains an unfair system of gender-stratified compensation,” Felicia Medina, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs in the class- and collective-action complaint, said in a statement. “In effect, BSNC bars female employees from better and higher-paying positions that have traditionally been held by male employees. Its employment practices are illegal, morally wrong, and they must come to an end.”

Neuromodulation, which sells spine implants to treat chronic pain, was acquired by Marlborough-based Boston Scientific in 2007, according to the complaint, filed Wednesday in federal court in the Central District of California.


Boston Scientific spokeswoman Nisha Deo said diversity is a core value of the company, and it is committed to equal employment opportunities for everyone.

“We believe this case lacks merit and is led by a law firm known for filing many similar complaints against companies,” she said in an e-mail.

The suit is the second gender discrimination complaint filed this week against a pharmaceutical firm by the San Francisco law firm Sanford, Heisler, Kimpel LLP. On Tuesday, the firm filed a $110 million complaint against the Fort Worth eye-care products company Alcon, a division of the Swiss drugmaker Novartis, in federal court in New York.

In 2010, the law firm represented female sales reps who won $250 million from Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. in New Jersey.


Katie Johnston can be reached at katie.johnston@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ktkjohnston.