Lawsuit: Sanofi reneged on hazard pay promise during pandemic

·2 min read

Jun. 10—A Scranton woman filed a class action lawsuit against Sanofi Pasteur Inc. and a staffing agency, alleging officials reneged on a promise to give her and other employees a 15% hazard pay raise for working onsite during the coronavirus pandemic.

Courtlind Davis says Charles Hollow, project manager at the Monroe County pharmaceutical company, advised her and 60 other laboratory technicians of the pay bump, which would be in effect "during the pandemic situation," in an April 7, 2020 email. The email stated the increase would halt when the "situation" ended.

Davis is employed by YOH Services LLC, a Philadelphia-based staffing agency that provides employees at the Sanofi plant in Swiftwater, according to the lawsuit filed in Philadelphia County Court. The suit, filed by Dresher attorney Peter Winebrake, says Sanofi and YOH never fulfilled the promise. Instead, Hollow advised employees in November they would receive three paid days off in the future to thank them for their service.

The suit seeks damages on several counts, including breach of contract, unjust enrichment and violation of the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law.

Michael J. Puma of Philadelphia, an attorney for Sanofi and YOH, recently filed a motion asking a judge to dismiss the case. Puma acknowledged Hollow sent the email, but contends his promise is not binding because the employees signed an employment agreement stipulating their pay rate, which can only be changed if there is a written agreement signed by the employees and company.

Puma also contends the offer is invalid because the email did not define when the wage increase would end, which would make any contract violation unenforceable.

Winebrake had not yet responded to the motion as of Thursday. In an email, he said he believes the promise is legally enforceable under Pennsylvania law.

"If the companies did not think their promise was legally enforceable, they should have said so when the promise was made," Winebrake said. "This is starting to look like a classic bait-and-switch."

Contact the writer: tbesecker@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9137; @tmbeseckerTT on Twitter.

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