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Lawsuit Claims Johnson & Johnson’s Culture of Discrimination Dead-Ends African-American Careers

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A lawsuit filed by a former employee suggests that despite being named one of Diversity Inc.’s “Top Companies for Diversity,” Johnson & Johnson has “a corporate culture of discrimination.”  

The suit was brought forward by a former executive, Francine Parham, who believes she was passed over for promotions because of her race. She is African-American and claims she was fired when she spoke out. The former Vice President of Human Resources says minority workers often left the company despite solid job performances because they saw no future there:

“During plaintiff’s employment with defendant, as part of her HR duties she had numerous conversations with a number of minority employees, who told plaintiff they were seeking other employment because defendant’s corporate culture of discrimination had ‘dead-ended’ their careers.”

In January of 2011, Parham was told by a supervisor that he envisioned a promotion for her in the next year.  Instead, her position was eliminated and she was informed that she wasn’t qualified for a higher position. She was then demoted.  During this time, less qualified white employees were promoted to her level, she claims.  After complaining she was terminated:

“Defendant’s upper management refused to take seriously its obligation to effectively remediate this corporate culture of race discrimination,” the suit states.The lawsuit seeks reinstatement of Parham’s job, backpay, compensation for emotional distress, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees.

Johnson & Johnson responded with traditional PR deflection, saying: “We have a deeply established commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace and deny the allegations in this case.”

AOL Jobs looks at the nuance of claims that the company is a bastion of diversity:

In a report earlier this year, Calvert Investments rated Johnson & Johnson’s diversity an 85 out of 100. At the same time, all five of the highest-paid executives at Johnson& Johnson are white, four of them white men. Ten of its 12 directors are also white, and no women of color sit on the board.

This week, Forbes reported that Johnson & Johnson’s second quarter profits were up 172 percent.


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