Female Sales Reps Win Gender Case Against Novartis

This is a settlement for the lawsuit.

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New York, NY: Following a jury decision that Novartis Pharmaceuticals is guilty of gender discrimation in pay, promotional opportunities and pregnancy-related matters, the company has been ordered to pay $250 million in punitive damages.

The nation-wide class of 5,600 female sales representatives earned the victory in Judge Colleen McMahon's courtroom in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

In addition to delivering a verdict for the Plaintiffs, the jury awarded the 12 testifying witnesses some $ 3.36 million in compensatory damages for the specific instances of discrimination testified to by those witnesses.

On the first day of the trial in the defense's opening statement, Novartis' own attorney said of an abusive male district manager, who had shown female sales reps pornography and invited them to sit on his lap, "He wasn't that bad a manager. He was just terrible with women." Novartis kept that manager on staff, actively managing women in the field, for years after it first learned of his inappropriate behavior. Although several of Novartis' witnesses claimed it had a "zero tolerance policy" for discrimination, those same witnesses admitted that managers were not terminated or demoted even when complaints of discrimination were substantiated by HR.

Judge McMahon will determine a separate amount of class damages for the approximate 5,600 individuals in the class at a later date. Those class damages will include back-pay damages for lost earnings.

In separate proceedings, compensatory damages will be decided for each member of the class that opts-in. Those damages will include money for the pain and suffering caused by Novartis' discriminatory acts.

In addition, Judge McMahon now has the opportunity to order Novartis to make changes to its policies and procedures in order to prevent future discriminatory behavior.

The class includes female sales representatives who have worked for the drug giant between 2002 and 2007. Thirteen of them testified during the five week trial. The class action was originally filed in 2004.

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