Pharma Company Agrees to Settlement for Illegal Drug Promotion
Business Ethics and Corporate Culture, Consumer Protection

Pharmaceutical company UCB will pay more than $34 million in fines for illegally promoting the epilepsy drug Keppra for headaches and pain. It is illegal for companies to promote their drugs for uses that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. UCB’s plea agreement includes $7.55 million in criminal fines, $1.1 million in forfeitures, and $25.7 million to settle civil charges that the company filed false claims with Medicare and Medicaid. The case stems from reports made by whistleblowers to the U.S. Department of Justice regarding UCB’s marketing practices. Two whistleblowers will receive $2.8 million as a result of the plea agreement.
UCB Pays $34 Million and Pleads Guilty in Epilepsy Drug Fraud Case (9 June 2011)
(Source: New York Times)

Company Settles Sex Discrimination Case With 248 Job Applicants
Employment and Workplace Issues

The US Department of Labor (DoL) has announced that ThyssenKrupp Elevator Manufacturing Inc (ThyssenKrupp) has agreed to pay US$288,333 to almost 250 female job applicants who were rejected for assembling, packing and utility positions on the basis that they were female. In addition to the monetary settlement, the company has agreed to extend employment offers to 23 affected women when positions become available, undertake measures to ensure compliance with relevant laws, and rectify discriminatory practices, among other matters.
DoL’s media release (16 June 2011)
(Source: DoL)

Bank Agrees to Investments and Changes to Rectify Discrimination Practices
Business Ethics and Corporate Culture

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced that Midwest BankCentre has agreed to open a branch in an African-American neighbourhood and invest almost US$1.45 million in such areas of St Louis, MO to settle charges that they engaged in race and colour discrimination. According to the DoJ, the bank “has served the credit needs of the residents of predominantly white neighbourhoods … to a significantly greater extent than they have served the credit needs of majority African-American neighbourhoods”.
According to the settlement, Midwest Bank Centre will:

  • “invest [US]$900,000 in a special financing program to increase the amount of credit the bank extends to majority African-American areas in the Missouri portion of the St. Louis metropolitan area”;
  • “[US]$300,000 for consumer education and credit repair programs”; and
  • “spend [US]$250,000 for outreach to potential customers and promotion of their products and services”.

DoJ’s media release (16 June 2011)
(Source: DoJ)

Retailer Settle Disability Discrimination Charge
Employment and Workplace Issues

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced that Finish Line has agreed to pay US$38,000 to resolve a disability discrimination suit involving a physically impaired employee who was allegedly refused “a transfer to an available customer service representative position as a reasonable accommodation to her disability”, even though she was qualified for the role. In addition to the monetary settlement, Finish Line has agreed to providing anti-discrimination training to staff, posting formal anti-discrimination notices and a prohibition from engaging in similar conduct in the future.
EEOC’s media release (16 June 2011)
(Source: EEOC)

Sex Discrimination and Retaliation Suit Settles for US$2 Million
Employment and Workplace Issues, Respect in the Workplace

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced that Sonic Drive-In of Los Lunas Ltd and B&B Consultants (Sonic), owners of a Sonic restaurant in Los Lunas, have agreed to pay US$2 million to settle a sex discrimination and retaliation case, brought against it by the EEOC. Former manager and partner of the restaurant, Robert Gomez, allegedly “subjected a class of women, including teenagers, to sexual harassment, including sexual comments and innuendo as well as unwanted touching”. According to the EEOC, the women who raised complaints about the alleged conduct “were subjected to retaliation in the terms and conditions of their employment, primarily by reducing their hours”, and eventually quit their jobs due to the continued harassment and employer’s failure to take action. More than 70 women will receive relief under the decree, which, among other things, prohibits Sonic from engaging in similar conduct in the future, and requires that anti-discrimination training be provided to staff.
EEOC’s media release (15 June 2011)
(Source: EEOC)