In the largest gender bias and sex discrimination class action case to ever go to verdict, a Manhattan jury ordered pharmaceutical giant Novartis to pay $250 million in punitive damages to thousands of female sales representatives. A few days before, the jury found Novartis guilty of gender discrimination in pay, promotional opportunities and pregnancy discrimination related issues and delivered a verdict of $3.36 million in compensatory damages for the 12 testifying witnesses for their specific instances of discrimination. Additionally, the presiding judge over the case, Judge McMahon, can now order Novartis to change its policies and procedures to prevent future instances of sex discrimination. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibit discrimination based upon gender and pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions and protect employees who make good faith complaints from retaliation. Our New York employment discrimination attorneys have represented employees who faced sex discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace.
The class of plaintiffs includes 5600 female sales representatives who worked at Novartis between 2002 and 2007. The trial revealed that Novartis did not pay its female employees at the same compensation rate as men, did not promote them into management and punished them if they got pregnant. Novartis expected their female sales representatives to put up with and comply with inappropriate sexual behavior. The jury sent a clear message to Novartis that this type of behavior will be punished. In this age of government regulation and strict enforcement policies, the jury verdict is a wake-up call to companies who ignore, condone, or encourage sex discrimination at the workplace. Rather than having implemented and enforced its own discrimination policies and procedures, Judge McMahon will now do it for Novartis. Clearly, it is wiser for companies to create and implement policies and procedures before somebody forces it upon them.
Novartis is the 2nd largest gender discrimination class action lawsuit, just behind the Wal-Mart gender discrimination case, but the largest to ever go to trial. Just recently, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals certified a class action discrimination lawsuit against retailer Wal-Mart. The class of current and former female Wal-Mart employees allege that they were discriminated against with respect to pay and promotions. Similarly, 79 female employees filed a class action lawsuit in September 2007 against Bloomberg, L.P., a financial services and media company founded by Mayor Bloomberg. The female employees allege that the company discriminated against pregnant women with paycuts and demotions when they took maternity leave.
If you or anyone you know has been a victim of gender or sex discrimination in the workplace, the experienced Employment Law Attorneys at Villanueva & Sanchala can help you. E-mail or call us now at (800) 893-9645 for a free initial telephone consultation.