A Federal jury in New York ruled against Novartis in a gender discrimination lawsuit, ordering the company to pay $3.36 million in compensatory damages to 12 women and $250 million in punitive damages to 5,600 others in one of the largest gender discrimination class actions in American history. The women charged that Novartis created a hostile working environment for female sales reps.
The company has strongly denied the allegations, and insists it will appeal the verdict. “We believe the plaintiffs’ claims were unfounded,” a company spokesperson said. “Throughout our history and, in particular, in the time frame of this lawsuit, [Novartis] has developed and implemented policies setting the highest standards with regards to diversity and inclusion for the development of our employees. … We are proud of the public honor and recognition we have received for the policies and programs we have in place to support the advancement of women in the sales force.”
“I think this is a huge victory for all working women,” Holly J. Waters, a former sales representative who was awarded $476,000 in compensatory damages, told The New York Times after the verdict. “We’ve waited a long time for this. It’s been five and a half years.”