Minnesota-based PMT Medical came under fire after a former employee accused leadership of implementing discriminatory hiring practices that excluded women and candidates over the age of 40.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit after doing some digging into the allegations and finding out that there were no female sales reps hired at PMT Medical between Jan. 1, 2007, through late in the year in 2010. There were at least 70 men hired during that time, according to a commission report.
The EEOC noted that it has witnesses who heard PMT president & CEO Alfred Iversen tell hiring officials that "women in sales is a 100% failure rate" and that women are a "failure at travel" required for sales roles, according to an agency press release.
The investigation began after an unnamed former PMT human resources director accused the company of illegal hiring practices. The whistleblower further accused PMT of taking to the local sheriff to file false reports that the erstwhile employee had engaged in felony theft.
"It appears from our pre-suit investigation – and we expect to prove in court – that once Mr. Iversen learned of the EEOC’s investigation, he allegedly began a campaign of hostile and threatening behavior to smoke out the source of the complaints," EEOC Chicago attorney John Hendrickson said in prepared remarks. "The false theft accusation was clearly intended to dissuade anyone else from doing the right thing and cooperating with EEOC. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out that the EEOC cannot go about its business of combating employment discrimination if we don’t step up to protect and defend those who bring their complaints to us."
The EEOC filed the lawsuit against PMT earlier this month in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, apparently after attempts to reach a voluntary settlement fell through. The agency is seeking an injunction requiring PMT to adopt non-discriminatory practices as well as back pay and other damages on behalf of a class of PMT candidates who were purportedly denied jobs because of their gender, as well as for the whistle-blowing former employee. For those denied on the basis of age, the EEOC is seeking doubled damages, the agency said.
The lawsuit and investigation will proceed under the EEOC’s Chicago District Office, the agency said.