Former top scientist, CFO accuse spine company leadership of sexism

Carly Behm -  

The former CFO and top scientist of DiscGenics are suing the spinal medtech company for alleged misconduct from top leadership.

C-suite leaders, including CEO Flagg Flanagan and COO Bob Wynalek allegedly made crude, sexist comments in multiple incidents, according to a lawsuit filed May 23 by Lara Silverman, PhD, and Jeffrey Poole. Some alleged comments were made toward Dr. Silverman's ability to work while being a mother, and others were inappropriate discussions about Mr. Flanagan's personal life, the lawsuit said. The lawsuit also alleges Dr. Silverman wasn't provided proper lactation space.

Dr. Silverman joined the company in 2011, and Mr. Poole was hired as CFO in 2020. They went to DiscGenics' board of directors to report the behavior, the lawsuit said. Shortly after, Mr. Poole's job was terminated. Dr. Silverman left the company in 2021. They are seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorneys fees.

"I've seen examples of gender discrimination throughout my professional career, but in larger companies, it was much more subtle, and I wasn't in a position to influence widespread change," Mr. Poole said in a May 23 news release shared with Becker's. "At DiscGenics, the sexism was anything but subtle." 

A spokesperson for DiscGenics told Becker's that the allegations against leadership were filed in a discrimination suit in 2021. The charges were dismissed in January 2022 following an investigation from the Utah Antidiscrimination and Labor Division, the spokesperson said. 

The spokesperson said DiscGenics plans to fight the new claims in court.

Mr. Poole and Dr. Silverman’s attorney said in a May 24 statement to Becker’s that the UALD’s investigation wasn’t thorough.

“The UALD is an overburdened state administrative agency with limited enforcement power and investigative resources. Its purported 'investigation' into our clients' claims did not include any hearing, any sworn testimony, any interviews with dozens of witnesses our clients put forth, nor any of the ordinary discovery tools utilized in a court of law,” the statement said. 

Note: This article was updated May 24 to include an additional statement. 

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