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Synthetic Genomics Sued for Gender Discrimination

A former attorney at Synthetic Genomics is suing the firm for gender discrimination, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Synthetic Genomics says the suit is without merit and that it would fight it, the paper adds. 

Teresa Spehar, a former vice president of intellectual property at the firm, alleges that she and other women at Synthetic Genomics were paid less than their male counterparts, were promoted less often, were left out of meetings, and were subject to gender stereotypes, the Union-Tribune reports. In the suit, Spehar says she was fired for "bogus reasons" after objecting to the treatment.

The Union-Tribune notes that Synthetic Genomics co-founder Craig Venter is alleged to have taken part in the discriminatory actions. In particular, it says he allegedly put his arm around a female former executive, while making a sexually inappropriate remark.

"While I cannot specifically comment on ongoing litigation, what I can tell you is I passionately believe it is without merit and we will vigorously defend the claims made in the lawsuit," Oliver Fetzer, the Synthetic Genomics CEO, tells the Union-Tribune in an email.