Novartis discriminated against women, must pay $250 million: U.S. jury

Judge will determine back pay, lost benefits and adjusted wages for 5,600 women
||Last Updated: 06/30/2010

A drug company discriminated against women and must pay US$250 million in punitive damages, a New York jury has found.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed on behalf of about 5,600 women against pharmaceutical giant Novartis in 2004.

Presiding New York District Court Judge Colleen McMahon will determine back pay, lost benefits and adjusted wages for each member of the class.

A Novartis spokeswoman, Pamela McKinlay, told Reuters she could not immediately comment on the jury's decision over punitive damages. The company has said it will appeal the ruling.

David Sanford, a lawyer for the women, told Reuters he was delighted.

"This is a vindication of everything that has happened in this courtroom over the last two months," Sanford told reporters after the verdict.

He said the verdict had sent a message to Novartis and other companies that "they cannot continue to get away with the discrimination and systemic problems that have occurred for so long."

In the first part of their ruling on Monday, the jury awarded $3.3 million in compensatory damages to 12 of the women who testified at the six-week long trial. The award to the 12 women opens the door for the 5,588 other women in the class who can now also apply for compensatory damages.

The jury found the company discriminated against women by paying them less than men, promoting fewer of them and allowing a hostile workplace.


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