Saturday, April 24, 2010
The New York Times had a recent article on one the biggest class action discrimination suits to go to trial. The employer is Novartis Pharmaceuticals and the certified class of plaintiffs are over 5,600 saleswomen, who are seeking $200 million in damages. The suit alleges discriminatory pay and promotions targeting women, particularly pregnant ones. There are a lot of difficulties in establishing these systemic claims of discrimination (for instance, will the $105 a month average lower salary for saleswomen help show discrimination, or will Novartis--a long-time member of Working Mothers' top-100 companies to work for--be able to explain away the difference through other factors?), but based on the story there are certainly some strong examples of individual discrimination that will help the larger case:
One woman’s affidavit states that her Novartis manager told her he preferred not to hire young women, saying, “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes flex time and a baby carriage.”
Another, who is scheduled to be the second to testify, claims she was encouraged to get an abortion.
A third woman, Amy Velez of Laurel, Md., the lead plaintiff, had twins in 2001. She said in an affidavit that she was repeatedly passed over for promotion by men who had inferior sales numbers. Ms. Velez also said she heard a manager asking recruiters if prospective employees were married or had children.
Hat Tip: Barbara Barreno