A jury has found that drug company Novartis discriminated against women by paying them less than men, promoting fewer of them and allowing a hostile workplace and has awarded $250 million in punitive damages to the Plaintiffs. The same jury concluded later that Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. had discriminated against its female employees since 2002, and it awarded $3.3 million to a dozen women. The company says it will appeal.
David Sanford, who was one of the Plaintiffs’ lawyers, said the findings “sent a message to Novartis and all other corporations in America that they cannot continue to get away with the discrimination and the systemic problems that have gone on for so long. That day has come and we’re absolutely delighted.” During the trial, the Plaintiffs portrayed one district manager as particularly abusive, so much so that he showed women pornographic images and invited them to sit on his lap. Novartis admitted that it might have been slow to investigate the claims against the manager, who incidentally was fired two years after the lawsuit was filed in 2004.
A lawyer for Novartis told the jury, “he wasn’t that bad a manager. He was just terrible with women.” It was a comment that I suspect had best not been made. The Plaintiffs’ lawyers repeatedly reminded the jury about it during closing arguments. I agree with David Sanford, who represented the women, when he told the jury, “You can’t be a good manager if you’re terrible with women.” This appears to be a verdict that will be upheld by the appeals court in the event Novartis goes forward with the appeal.
Source: Associated Press
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