what he could do to get her upstairs to his hotel room, according to court documents.
At another company event, the same executive referred to a group of women from a company that Merck had just acquired as “whores” and said “they are much hotter than the Merck whores.”
In 2014, Ms. Mountis joined the lawsuit, which now covers roughly 3,900 women.
A trial date has not been set. A Merck spokeswoman said the company “has a strong anti-discrimination policy.” Ms. Mountis, the spokeswoman said, “was supported throughout her career to ensure she had opportunities to advance and succeed.”
Ms. Mountis tried to make the best of her less prestigious job. Merck demoted her again in 2012, while she was on maternity leave after giving birth to her second child. The next year, Ms. Mountis resigned. She eventually took a job at a pharmaceutical company that is a fraction of Merck’s size.
“I am still trying to get my momentum back,” Ms. Mountis said.
Ms. Smith also moved to a much smaller drug company.
Other drug companies have faced similar complaints. Novartis in 2010 agreed to pay $175 million to settle a class-action lawsuit in which thousands of current and former sales representatives said the company discriminated against women, including expecting mothers, in pay and promotions.
One former Novartis saleswoman, Christine Macarelli, said that her boss told her that “women who find themselves in my position — single, unmarried — should consider an abortion.” When she returned from maternity leave, she said she was told to stop trying to get a promotion “because of my unfortunate circumstances at home — being my son Anthony.”
At the time, U.P.S. gave reprieves from heavy lifting to drivers injured on the job and those who were permanently disabled. Even employees who had lost their licenses after driving drunk got different assignments. Ms. Young argued that she should have gotten the same deal.
Two federal courts ruled in U.P.S.’s favor. Ms. Young appealed to the Supreme Court. During oral arguments in 2014, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg challenged U.P.S.’s lawyer to cite “a single instance of anyone who needed a lifting dispensation who didn’t get it except for pregnant people.” The U.P.S. lawyer drew a blank.
In 2015, the court ruled 6 to 3 in Ms. Young’s favor. But the justices stopped short of establishing an outright protection for expectant mothers. They just said that if employers are accommodating big groups of other workers — people with disabilities, for example — but not pregnant women, they are probably violating the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.