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Child-care duties prompt job bias claim

A drug company salesman claimed gender bias after his supervisor asked if the salesman’s wife could drop off their child at school, so the salesman could start work earlier.

Noah Nathan said his employer, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, discriminated against him by questioning his child-care responsibilities. Nathan’s district sales manager wanted to enforce an 8:00 a.m. start time for his reps in the field, but Nathan needed to drop off his older child at school at 8:30 several days a week.

Takeda said the supervisor enforced the start-time uniformly, but Nathan claimed the sales reps just told the supervisor they started at 8:00 a.m., and he was penalized for being candid about his start time.

He said Takeda retaliated by forcing him to undergo extra training prior to being certified to sell certain drugs.

The employer produced a “comparator,” a female employee who, like Nathan, was married to an attorney, had a young child, worked under the same supervisor and was subjected to the same start-time requirement.

Crediting Nathan’s claims under the summary judgment standard, his supervisor’s comments might have reflected some “general hostility toward child-care responsibilities” and a view that “job responsibilities take priority over child-care responsibilities,” said Alexandria U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga. But there were no “disparaging remarks about male caregivers or proper gender roles,” the judge said in Nathan v. Takeda Pharmaceuticals America Inc.

On Aug. 24, Trenga granted summary judgment to the employer.

–Deborah Elkins

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