CIGNA Hit with Gender Bias Charges

March 4, 2011 ( – A CIGNA provider contracting manager has accused her employer in a lawsuit of gender bias of giving male employees preferential treatment over female employees.

A Business Insurance report said Bretta Karp’s suit contends she was denied a promotion last year because she “came across as too aggressive” in interviews. She has worked at CIGNA since 1997.

Instead, the job was given to a less-experienced male employee, Bill O’Donnell, who subsequently informed Karp that her largest market, Vermont, was being given to a younger, less-qualified male employee.  The suit alleges Karp’s treatment was part of a pattern in treatment of women and seeks class-action status, Business Insurance said.

“CIGNA’s predominantly male managers hold female employees, including both (Ms. Karp) and class members, to stricter standards than male employees, and thus, female employees often receive lower performance appraisals than males for performing at the same level. Additionally, male employees more often receive favorable work assignments and other forms of preferential treatment, including the allocation of company resources,” the suit charges, according to Business Insurance.

The suit also alleges a hostile work environment aimed at female employees.

In a statement to Business Insurance , Philadelphia-based CIGNA said, “We have just received the complaint and are reviewing it. We are committed to diversity and equal opportunity; our workplace policies expressly prohibit discrimination in any form and we intend to fully defend against the complaint.”