NEWARK, N.J., Jan. 17, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Sanford Heisler LLP today added four additional class representatives to the class action gender discrimination employment suit the firm filed in U.S. District Court for New Jersey against pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., Inc. in May 2013. The firm also increased the value of the case to $250 million. The suit's original class representative Kelli Smith has been joined by female sales representatives from Merck locations coast to coast who also experienced discrimination based on their gender and pregnancy. Merck fosters a "boys' club" culture that affords men greater advancement opportunities and greater pay. Merck management discourages women from raising complaints of discrimination, instead telling them to "lie" to Human Resources. When women do complain within the company's internal channels, their complaints go ignored. "The addition of four female Merck sales representatives as class representatives is further evidence of the pervasive nature of gender-based hostility throughout Merck's U.S. sales force," said Kate Mueting, attorney with the plaintiffs' legal team. "All of these women have experienced disastrous and painful career consequences as a result of Merck's policies that discourage female employees from having children and punish those who do. This class action brings light to this discrimination and aims to prevent the company from future discrimination." Other members of the legal team at Sanford Heisler include David Sanford, Chairman of the firm; and Deborah Marcuse and Jennifer Siegel, attorneys in Sanford Heisler's New York office. Sanford Heisler LLP has a long record of victories in employment discrimination matters brought by female employees of global pharmaceutical companies, including a recent gender discrimination case against Novartis that resulted in the largest-ever monetary award in a U.S. employment discrimination dispute.