Novartis Loses Sex Discrimination Case

Novartis Pharmaceuticals lost a class action sex discrimination suit yesterday in New York District Court. A jury found that Novartis violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and practiced sex discrimination against female employees, and pregnant women in particular, in terms of pay and opportunities for promotion. The complaint sought more than $200 million in damages on behalf of more than 5,600 female sales employees who received an average of $105 less per month than men in comparable jobs from 2002 through 2007. According to Agence France Presse, the awarded 12 women plaintiffs in the case compensatory damages of 3.3 million dollars. The jury is still determining the amount of punitive damages that should be awarded to the class itself, reported the Wall Street Journal. “Today’s verdict sends a clear and powerful message to Novartis and every corporation in the United States: women are equal partners in our workforce,” said David Sanford, one of the attorneys representing the women. “The days of second-class citizenship are over. Play by the rules or be subject to great exposure — financially and reputationally,” reported Agence France Presse Lawyers for Novartis expressed disappointment in the ruling and said they would appeal. According to the Daily Finance, incidents that provided the basis for the complaint included: – A mother of twins was repeatedly passed over for promotions, which were given to men with worse sales numbers. She also heard a manager asking a recruiter if potential sales representatives were married or had children. – A woman alleges her manager said he didn’t like to hire young women, because “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes flex time and a baby carriage.” – A woman who claims she was encouraged to have an abortion.


Wall Street Journal 5/18/10; Agence France Presse 5/17/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 4/7/10

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