Friday, 21 May 2010

Jury Awards $250 Million Punitive Damages in Novartis Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

UPDATE: A federal jury awarded the plaintiffs $250 million in punitive damages, two days after finding that Novartis discriminated against pregnant women. California sexual discrimination attorneys applauded the jury award.

It was a verdict that California discrimination attorneys have been waiting for. A jury has awarded plaintiffs $3.3 million against pharmaceutical giant Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, in a gender discrimination lawsuit.

It is a major victory for female employees of Novartis, who alleged that the company not only discriminated against them in pay scales and promotions, but also discouraged women employees from becoming pregnant. California employment discrimination attorneys will find this verdict a major milestone, not just because the judge also informed the jury to begin deliberations on a punitive damages verdict, but also because it's the second-largest gender discrimination lawsuit in the country. The biggest lawsuit is Dukes v. Wal-Mart, which last month received class certification. The Novartis lawsuit includes approximately 5,600 female employees of the company, and the plaintiffs in the lawsuit include sales representatives and entry-level managers

The trial lasted for about a month, and the jury saw evidence that Novartis fostered a culture that discouraged female employees from pregnancies. Female employees, who filed complaints of sexual harassment against top-level management, found that their complaints were ignored. Women who had the same qualifications and experience as their male counterparts, and even higher qualifications than the men in many instances, were frequently passed over for promotions in favor of the male employees.

Novartis has already made clear its intention to appeal the verdict. The company might want to save its energy for when the biggest shock hits. Jurors will soon begin deliberations on the punitive damages amount. The jury has already received one important piece of information they need to make the decision - the value of the company, set at $9.5 billion.

For female employees across the country and California workplace discrimination attorneys, this is a highly encouraging verdict, and hopefully, will set the tone for other discrimination lawsuits around the country.

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