Novartis $152.5 Million Sex-Bias Settlement Approved

A federal judge approved a mammoth $152.5 million settlement in a gender discrimination class action against one of New Jersey’s largest employers, Novartis. The suit was filed in 2004 by Amy Velez and four other women who claimed they faced discrimination over pay and promotion decisions as well as for pregnancy. The case was certified as a class action on behalf of more than 5,600 women who worked in sales jobs at Novartis since July 15, 2002. On May 17, 2010, a jury found Novartis liable for discrimination and awarded $3.4 million in damages to 12 of the women and $250 million in punitive damages to a group of 5,600 employees.

In accordance with the settlement, Novartis will pay $60 million in back pay to the class and $40 million in compensatory damages. Additionally, Novartis has agreed to implement measures to protect female workers’ rights. More specifically, the drug maker has agreed to revise its sexual harassment policies and training, strengthen its employee complaint process, hire an outside specialist to help it identify gender pay disparities in the company, and revise its performance management process.

This firm has seen more gender and pregnancy discrimination cases since the economy began its downturn. If you have been unfairly denied a promotion or pay increase because of your gender, you may have a claim for unlawful discrimination. An attorney specializing in employment law can help you understand your rights.