Ex-Employees Accuse Biotech Hedge Fund Founder of Toxic Sexual Harassment Culture


As Time Magazine honors “The Silence Breakers” as its 2017 person of the year for speaking out against sexual harassment, additional allegations are being made across the landscape. This week OrbiMed Advisors Sam Isaly has been accused of creating a toxic work environment for female employees.

This morning, Stat News reported that five people levelled charges against 72-year-old Isaly and claimed he “wantonly demeaned and verbally abused female employees.” According to the report, Isaly, the founder of the hedge fund, made lewd comments to female employees, subjected them to pornographic images and made “pervasive sexist comments.” None of the women claimed that Isaly actually touched them in any sexual manner, Stat noted.

The five females outlined the allegations to Stat News and said they complained to OrbiMed senior executives who failed to act.

Stat reported it interviewed Isaly for 90 minutes regarding the allegations and he denied them. OrbiMed’s human resources director Kirsten Kearns sat in on the interview, Stat said, and initially said there had not been any complaints brought against Isaly. However, Stat said she later told the publication that claims against Isaly had been investigated but “concluded none rose to the level of a sexually egregious behavior.”

Other executives who sat in on the interview with Stat dismissed the allegations as “normal workplace behavior that the women may have misconstrued.”

After Stat’s report was published, OrbiMed issued a statement that it had hired outside counsel to investigate the claims.

“The incidents cited are concerning and OrbiMed has retained the services of an outside independent law firm to investigate the matter. OrbiMed takes gender equality seriously and wishes to encourage a supportive work environment and equal opportunity for all employees,” OrbiMed said in its statement, as quoted by Stat News.

The allegations of harassment by Isaly come at a time when men and women across industries are speaking out against sexual harassment. Just this week, two Korea-based business entities of pharma giants Novartis and Pfizer are embroiled in sexual harassment scandals in that country. A male employee at Novartis Korea reported to the company that his female boss sexually harassed him in September. At Pfizer Korea, allegations were made against a male supervisor for inappropriately touching women while “faking” a hug.

Sexual harassment allegations made against news commentator Bill O’Reilly caused four major drugmakers to pull advertising from Fox News. In April, Eli Lilly and Co., GlaxoSmithKline plc, Bayer AG and Sanofi pulled ads from the controversial television host’s programming.

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