New York City – Novartis has been ordered to pay 12 former sales representatives $3.36 million in compensatory damages and $250 million in punitive damages for gender discrimination to 5,600 women in a class lawsuit. The verdict represents the largest punitive damages award in history in any class action employment discrimination case.
Novartis was found liable for gender discrimination in pay, promotional opportunities, and pregnancy-related matters. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon now has the opportunity to order Novartis to change its policies and procedures to prevent future discriminatory behavior. Judge McMahon also will award backpay to the entire class at a later date to make up for the lost earnings Novartis wrongfully denied its female employees. In separate proceedings, compensatory damages also will be decided for each member of the class that opts-in, to include monetary damages for the pain and suffering caused by Novartis’ discriminatory acts.
The class includes female sales representatives who worked for the drug company between 2002 and 2007. Thirteen of these women testified during the five-week trial in the class action originally filed in 2004. (Amy Velez et al., vs. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, No. 04 Civ. 09194.(S.D.N.Y.)