Back in May of 2013, I was asked by anonymous commenters to report on this case, right after the initial complaint was filed. I declined to offer an in-depth disclosure and analysis of the claims (filed in the federal District Courts in New Jersey), then — instead waiting for Merck’s right to formally respond, in a sworn Answer to Complaint. Law 360 alerted me to this latest development. On Wednesday of this week, Merck has done so — Full Answer to Complaint (a 19 page PDF file).
Merck says regardless of what the complaint claims, all of the individual putative discrimination claims are too dissimilar from one another to warrant federal class action treatment. Merck points to highly similar (virtually identical) complaints against other companies, held by other courts not to be adequate to invoke the federal class action mechanics (primarily on lack of commonality). Without a careful review of the individual cases’ evidence, and without discovery, it would be irresponsible to lend too much credence to the plaintiffs’ assertions. At least for now.
Having said that, various legacy Schering-Plough managers are mentioned by name in the suit. And that is a matter of public record. Here is original 44 page complaint, as a PDF.
To be fair, Merck is regularly lauded, by numerous independent analyses, for being a very-mom friendly place to work. That doesn’t mean the plaintiffs aren’t right — it just gives me a little pause.