CHARLESTON – A former employee is suing Novo Nordisk Inc. and his former supervisor after he was allegedly retaliated against and terminated from his employment
Bryan D. Czapor was employed by Novo for more than five years in the field of pharmaceutical sales and during his employment, he consistently performed his duties in a satisfactory manner and met the reasonable expectations of the defendants, according to a complaint filed Dec. 22 in Kanawha Circuit Court.
Czapor claims he was instructed and encouraged to elicit questions from physicians who prescribe, or prospectively could prescribe, Novo's medications so that Novo could address those questions. These formal questions are known within the industry as EPIR.
The defendants had actual knowledge that soliciting an EPIR was not a permissible practice within the pharmaceutical sales industry but instructed Czapor to do so without regard for the legal restrictions upon such practices.
Czapor refused to engage in the practices of soliciting EPIRs for his employer and the defendants retaliated against him by placing him on a performance improvement plan for his refusal to solicit EPIRs as instructed, according to the suit.
Czapor claims he lodged complaints with management level personnel within the human resources department regarding the retaliation for his refusal to engage in prohibited sales practices.
Shawnee Lewis was hired as Czapor's new manager in fall 2012. In April 2013, Lewis held a conference call with the entire district's sales staff and instructed the sales personnel on how she expected them to address the launch of a competitor's new diabetes drug called Invokana.
Czapor claims the defendants instructed sales staff on how to sell against the negative side effects of their competitor's medications.
In October 2013, Lewis completed a "ride-a-long" with Czapor, as the sales numbers for Novo's medications were negatively impacted by the release of its competitor's medication, according to the suit.
Czapor claims Lewis made it clear to him that he was not doing what she expected him to do to drive sales numbers, and he made it clear to her that he would not cross any legal restrictions to drive sales numbers, as he understood that he would bear personal exposure to criminal charges by doing so.
In January 2014, Czapor was again placed on a second performance improvement plan as a retaliatory action and on March 12, he was willfully, maliciously and unlawfully terminated from his employment, according to the suit.
Czapor claims the defendants unlawfully retaliated against him and caused him damages.
Czapor is seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre-judgment interest. He is being represented by Michael A. Olivio of Olivio & Griffith; and Mark A. Atkinson and John-Mark Atkinson of Atkinson & Polak PLLC.
The case is assigned to Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 14-C-2225