Sunday, March 18, 2012 | 2:24 p.m.
A Las Vegas pharmaceutical drug sales executive has won $1.868 million in an age discrimination lawsuit against drug company Hoffmann-La Roche Inc.
Randy Dossat sued the company in 2009, claiming he had an excellent employment record and regularly earned performance-based raises since joining the company in 1997 as a division sales manager.
But starting in 2006, his lawsuit says, his new manager repeatedly referred to him as "old school," inappropriately commented on his "tenure" with the company and suggested he was not a proper fit for the "new environment."
Dossat says in the suit he perceived these comments as being discriminatory because of his age, 55 at the time, and believed they violated the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
When he complained to higher-ups in the company, he claims they did not conduct a proper and thorough investigation and that he was subjected to unlawful retaliation and intentional inflection of emotional distress, his lawsuit said.
After a trial, a federal jury on March 5 awarded Dossat $168,000 for lost pay and $1.7 million in damages for mental or emotional pain and suffering.
"This verdict sends a clear message to employers that they should not retaliate against employees for complaining about discrimination in the workplace. The verdict also sends a message to employees to speak up about unlawful discriminatory acts in the workplace," said a statement from Dossat’s attorneys at the law offices of Esteban-Trinidad Law in Las Vegas and Bononi Law Group in Los Angeles.
Hoffmann-La Roche, which is part of a Basel, Switzerland-based drug group, said it plans to appeal.
"Roche is disappointed in the jury verdict in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada. We continue to believe that Mr. Dossat’s case has no merit. We plan to appeal and vigorously defend ourselves," the firm said in a statement last week. "Roche is committed to ethical and lawful personnel practices. We are committed to providing an environment where each individual is respected and supported; and is rewarded on the basis of personal achievement and contribution."
Court records show attorneys for Hoffmann-La Roche argued that Dossat’s claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress should have been thrown out because the only remedy injured employees have for on-the-job injuries is through the workers’ compensation insurance system.
Attorneys for Dossat disagreed, saying that’s only true when the injury resulted from an accident.
"Dossat’s claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress is not preempted because he is claiming that the acts of defendants and their employees were intentional, malicious, willful and outrageous," Dossat’s attorneys wrote in a court filing.