Pfizer Inc. was sued by a group of health care professionals and others for discriminating against Asian-American applicants to one of its fellowship programs.
Do No Harm, which describes itself as “a diverse collection of physicians, healthcare professionals, and medical students”, filed a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court to end the allegedly discriminatory aspects of Pfizer’s Breakthrough Fellowship Program.
Pfizer claims it created BFP to increase minority representation at Pfizer and “to improve [its] pipelines of diverse leaders.” BFP recipients receive funding to pay for summer internships, master’s degrees, and employment as a pre-or post-graduate at the company. Pfizer restricts who can apply for BFP. The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, resident, and a junior at an accredited college. They must also be willing to relocate to New York City and pursue a master’s degree in statistics, business, or pharmacology.
Do No Harm claims that whites and Asian Americans are not eligible to apply. Do No Harm states that such a policy is discriminatory.
The complaint continues, “Racial discrimination degrades us.”
Do No Harm not only insists that this form of racial discrimination was wrong but also claims that the “open exclusion” of applicants from white and Asian-American communities is illegal because it violates federal, state, and municipal civil rights laws, as well as federal laws that regulate which companies are eligible for federal funding.
The lawsuit seeks to stop discriminatory BFP requirements and prevent Pfizer from discriminating against Asian-American applicants for the 2023 BFP awards. It also seeks $1 in compensatory damages.
Pfizer appears unaffected by the allegations or the lawsuit. Although COVID vaccine manufacturers claim that they did not read the whole lawsuit, the representatives said they have “every confidence”, that Pfizer’s policies are in compliance with all federal, state, and local employment laws.
Pfizer stated that they will “continue to strive to create greater opportunity,” and “including through specific programs to cast a wide net to talent.”
Pfizer stated that it plans to create 100 fellows in the next three years.
Google was also criticized recently for allegedly discriminating against Asians and whites in its Ph.D. fellowship program.
Edward Blum, founder of Students for Fair Admissions, stated that the Google Fellowship program was a clear violation of civil rights and an immoral quota system. It pits students against each other based on skin color and ethnicity. “This type of racial discrimination is prohibited by our nation’s longstanding civil rights laws.”
Google stated that like Pfizer it will stand by its policy.