A federal judge in Birmingham, Alabama has denied Medtronic’s attempt to throw out a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by a male former employee.
The employee, Joshua Boyd, began working at Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) in 2013. Boyd claims that despite earning the title of “top seller” of surgical equipment for Medtronic’s Midwest region, a new female manager transferred him to a new sales area, where he struggled to achieve his previous sales figures. Boyd claims the alleged discrimination stemmed from Medtronic’s Aspire program, announced by CEO Omar Ishrak in 2014 to make women 50% of management.
Boyd filed two claims of sex discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission with no result before suing Medtronic in 2017, claiming sex discrimination and retaliation for complaining about sex discrimination. Medtronic terminated Boyd in 2016, according to his amended complaint.
“We vigorously disagree with the claims in this case,” said Medtronic spokesman Eric Epperson in an email to MassDevice. “Medtronic respects the rights of every employee, and our policies support equal treatment for all persons and condemns any form of discrimination.”
Boyd’s attorney was not immediately available for comment on the judge’s order.
“A reasonable jury could infer a connection between Boyd’s termination and Ishrak’s goal of reaching fifty-percent female representation in management,” Judge Scott Coogler said in his opinion denying summary judgment. Coogler also cited other evidence of Boyd’s female former manager approaching a woman in the company about applying for Boyd’s position soon after his termination as possible evidence of gender bias.
“The Court finds that this evidence is sufficient to create a jury question on the issue of whether Boyd’s gender was a motivating factor in his termination,” Coogler said.
Boyd’s claim asks for a permanent injunction barring Medtronic from “engaging further in its discriminatory treatment of male employees on the basis of sex,” that the company provide equal employment opportunities for all employees, and implement “a substantive policy against sex discrimination and retaliation in the work place,” plus damages for mental and emotional distress, back pay, punitive damages and possible reinstatement to a position at Medtronic.