Saturday, June 3, 2023

Pfizer Beats Race-Bias Lawsuit Over Minority Fellowship Program

(Reuters) – A federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit by a group of medical professionals alleging that a fellowship program set up by Pfizer Inc to improve diversity within its higher ranks limited white and Asian- Discriminates against American applicants.

Do No Harm, a group opposing what it calls “radical, divisive and discriminatory ideology” in healthcare, alleged that the drugmaker’s Breakthrough Fellowship program was discriminatory because only blacks, Latinos and Native Americans could apply.

But U.S. District Judge Jennifer Rochon in Manhattan ruled the Virginia-based nonprofit failed to show legal standing to sue Pfizer because it would not identify by name any members of its group who have been incarcerated because of their race. Could not apply to the program.

She said that instead it submitted “incoherent” declarations from two unnamed white and Asian-American students at unnamed Ivy League universities “giving no details about their career and educational goals, employment history or interests.”

He said that even though two members were identified, Do No Harm failed to establish that they were eligible to apply for the fellowship program, which aims to grow the pipeline of Black, Latino and Native American leaders at the drugmaker .

Do no harm, regardless, Rochon, who was appointed by Democratic President Joe Biden, said it lacks standing to pursue federal claims under several federal civil rights and anti-discrimination laws.

Representatives for both Pfizer and Do No Harm did not respond to requests for comment.

Pfizer started the fellowship in 2021. Fellows receive a two-year full-time, fully funded master’s degree and employment at New York-based Pfizer upon completion of the program. It aims to enroll 100 fellows by 2025.

The lawsuit was filed in September, a month before the US Supreme Court heard arguments against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina in a pair of cases that could determine the future of affirmative action in higher education.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, appeared receptive to the arguments of those challenging the caste-conscious admissions policies of universities.

Do No Harm was launched last April, stating that it “wants to stop this intrusion of politics into the healthcare system, and medical education in particular, before it affects the quality and access to care “

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters,

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