Cigna employee seeks $100m in discrimination suit
A woman in the Boston office of Cigna HealthCare is seeking $100 million in damages in a lawsuit that alleges that the company systematically discriminates against women by fostering a hostile work environment and by denying women rightful salary increases.
Specifically, the suit alleges that Cigna treated Karp and other female employees less favorably than male employees in similar positions.
In a statement, Cigna said: "We have just received the complaint and are reviewing it. We are committed to diversity and equal opportunity; our workplace policies expressly prohibit discrimination in any form, and we intend to fully defend against the complaint."
Cigna HealthCare is part of Cigna Corp., a global health services company headquartered in Philadelphia.
The lawsuit, which is seeking class action status, was filed in the US District Court for Massachusetts in Boston today, said Sanford Wittels & Heisler LLP, the Washington, D.C., law firm that is representing the plaintiff in the case.
The plaintiff is Bretta Karp, who joined Cigna as contracting manager in 1997, Sanford Wittels & Heisler said. Karp has held a number of positions at Cigna and received "stellar annual performance reviews." Nevertheless, her salary level was "downgraded without explanation while male employees with her same qualifications were put in a higher level salary band," Sanford Wittels & Heisler said in a press release.
The lawsuit also alleges that "pervasive gender discrimination at Cigna prevented Ms. Karp from advancing into higher and better paying positions and subjected her to active and ongoing gender hostility from her male co-workers," the law firm said.
Karp continues to work for Cigna, a spokeswoman for the law firm said.
Besides monetary damages, the lawsuit seeks changes at Cigna to prevent "continued gender discrimination" at the company, the law firm said.