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AstraZeneca Whistleblower Sues for Age Discrimination and Retaliation

A former AstraZeneca sales manager—and current whistleblower—is suing the company for age discrimination and retaliation. Suzanne Ivie claims that AstraZeneca fired her after she refused to participate in an off-label marketing scheme, and discriminated against her due to her age.

Case background

51-year-old Ivie was fired in 2019, after working 19 years with AstraZeneca. During her tenure, she consistently received strong performance reviews. She was one of the oldest members in her division.

In 2017, AstraZeneca hired a new direct supervisor for Ivie. The supervisor, who was also a business director, made many remarks about Ivie’s age and how she was “aging well,” comparing her to 69-year-old singer Pat Benatar.

At the same time, Ivie expressed concern about AstraZeneca’s marketing efforts for an asthma medication. She felt the marketing statements for sales reps were “misleading and unsupported by medical literature.” Her boss pushed Ivie to approve the statements. The legal department allegedly agreed that the questions were misleading. This scenario also happened with two other drugs.

Eventually, Ivie’s boss threatened to remove her from regional and national positions. She was disciplined for failing to meet certain work goals, even though younger workers who fell short were not. She was removed from leadership positions and the national team. Her bonus fell 70 percent, and she was eventually fired in June 2019.

Ivie sued the drug manufacturer in Oregon federal court, and trial began in late June 2022. AstraZeneca has previously been sued for off-label promotional claims, which were settled out of court in 2010 and 2018. Each case settled for hundreds of millions of dollars.

Age discrimination, off-label marketing and retaliation claims are not unusual in the pharmaceutical industry. If you’re concerned your employer has engaged in wrongdoing, talk to an experienced whistleblower attorney at Kardell Law Group today.

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