Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Novartis Pregnancy Discrimination Class-Action Trial Begins

Novartis is on trial on allegations of discrimination filed by female employees against the company. The class-action lawsuit trial began on Wednesday in New York City, and seeks damages exceeding $200 million on behalf of more than 5,600 female employees at the pharmaceutical giant.

According to the class-action lawsuit, Novartis discriminated against female employees, especially those who got pregnant. Female employees at the company could expect to receive an average of $105 less per month than their male counterparts. Class-action lawyers representing the Novartis employees say that the company has a long-standing policy of discriminating against women, and that they will prove this in court. According to the attorneys, the plaintiffs have “overwhelming evidence” to show that Novartis discriminated against women who became pregnant, and went on maternity leave. The lawsuit was filed in 2004.

The lawsuit includes not only details of discriminating attitudes towards women, but also some shocking remarks allegedly made by Novartis management, towards female employees. One female employee who got pregnant was advised by a company manager to get an abortion. Another female Novartis employee claims that a manager told her to her face, that he didn't particularly like hiring women because in his own words, “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a flex time and then comes the baby carriage.” Yet another says she was told by her manager that she was not eligible for a pay raise because she was on maternity leave, and therefore, was not in the field. Novartis continues to deny all the charges.

It's an interesting lawsuit top California class action lawyers, because the company has been frequently mentioned in Working Mothers magazine as one of the top 100 best companies for working mothers in the nation. Novartis has good company on the list. Another company that is also mentioned as one of the best companies for working mothers in the country, Goldman Sachs, is also the subject of a pregnancy and gender discrimination lawsuit brought by a female employee.

Either these companies manage to cover their discriminatory practices exceedingly well, or Working Mothers needs to rethink the criteria for its list.

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