NOVARTIS AGREES TO SETTLE SEX DISCRIMINATION SUIT FOR $8 MILLION

Earlier this year, a class and collective lawsuit was filed by two female former-employees of the Alcon eye-care products unit of Novartis, alleging that the Company discriminated against female employees by denying them equal pay and promotion opportunities. The lawsuit was filed by Elyse Dickerson, a former Global Director of Pharmaceuticals and Susan Orr, Global Director for New Product and Product Strategy. In their lawsuit, they claimed that women made up fewer than 15% of senior management positions, they were paid less than their male counterparts, and were denied promotions and career enhancements opportunities despite their qualifications.

In 2010, in a separate class action lawsuit, a New York jury found that Novartis engaged in gender discrimination against its female employees and awarded plaintiffs $250 million, the largest award in an employment discrimination case at that time. This lawsuit alleges that despite that jury award and Novartis’ representations, “no effective female management initiatives have been rolled out” and Alcon’s website “does not reference any initiatives to promote or support female advancement.”  Last week, however, Defendants agreed to pay $8 million to settle the sex discrimination claims brought by four groups of employees and plaintiffs sought preliminary approval of the settlement.

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