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Lawsuits & Litigation

Does Eli Lilly Discriminate Against Older Applicants? One Lawsuit Thinks So.

— September 8, 2021

Eli Lilly was recently hit with an age discrimination lawsuit, claiming it favors younger applicants.

Eli Lilly has been in the news a lot this year. Earlier in the year, it saw the exit of its chief financial officer, and a month later it was hit with a discrimination lawsuit. Now, the company is back in the news, this time over allegations of age discrimination.

Gavel with law books; image by wp paarz, via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, no changes.
Gavel with law books; image by wp paarz, via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, no changes.

A proposed class-action suit was filed earlier this week in Indianapolis federal court by two former Eli Lilly job applicants who claim the company “systematically excluded older candidates for diabetes and primary care sales positions in favor of younger workers, even if the older applicants were equally or more qualified.

The plaintiffs are Jared Grimes, 49, and Georgia Edmondson, 55. Both are pharma sales reps and they decided to sue the company over claims that it “recruits for certain positions only through on-campus activities and internships.” The suit states, “the company fills those sales rep positions with interns until there are no more interns left.” The plaintiffs further claim:

“Only after exhausting all potential intern hires does Eli Lilly sometimes post these positions publicly.”

The suit further claims that “if the company does post a position publicly, older applicants are routinely eliminated early in the process.” Why? Well, according to Grimes and Edmonson, “Lilly managers have an incentive to meet the company’s discriminatory quotas to hire millennials and early career professionals.” The plaintiffs further note that the “hiring practices are no accident but rather a priority of CEO David Ricks.” Soon after taking the position, Ricks “began to publicly stress the fact that he wanted to increase the percentage of millennial sales representatives to 40% of the overall sales force by 2020,” according to the suit.

However, a company spokesperson pushed back against the allegations and stated:

“Lilly does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, protected veteran status, disability or any other legally protected status…We are committed to fostering and promoting a culture of diversity and respect. We do not comment on the details of ongoing litigation.”

Eli Lilly isn’t the only pharma company on the receiving end of age discrimination allegations. Not too long ago an “ex-AstraZeneca manager claimed she was fired for her age and for not being willing to market drugs beyond their FDA labels.” She was eventually awarded $2.4 million. Other biopharma companies, like Biogen and Teva, have also been sued over age discrimination claims. 


Former Eli Lilly job applicants say the company’s hiring practices favor the young

Lawsuit claims Eli Lilly favors millennials for sales jobs


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