Swiss drugmaker Novartis Corp. is facing another gender discrimination lawsuit alleging the company routinely denies women equal pay and bars them from promotions and leadership positions.
The proposed class-action complaint, filed in a New York City federal court, seeks $110 million and comes less than five years after a U.S. jury ordered the company to pay $250 million in another class-action lawsuit that made similar claims. In 2010, that verdict was the largest award in a work discrimination case to be handed down in the U.S.
The new complaint alleges that Novartis sustains a “boy’s club atmosphere” hostile to female employees in its Texas-based Alcon Laboratories division.
Former Novartis/Alcon employees Elyse Dickerson and Susan Orr filed the complaint, asserting that the company violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of race and color, national origin, sex, and religion.
“For years, the company paid them less than similarly situated men, discriminated against them in assignments and other career-enhancing opportunities, and denied them promotions in favor of … men,” the lawsuit claims.
Ms. Dickerson says Novartis/Alcon fired her from her global director position after she complained about the company’s unequal treatment of women. She seeks $10 million and reinstatement to her job.
Ms. Orr, a former research scientist for Novartis/Alcon claims the lack of promotions for women employees forced to her resign from the company. She is seeking a minimum of $100 million on behalf of a proposed class of thousands of female Alcon employees.
The former employees claim that Novartis/Alcon have no plan in place to address the alleged gender discrimination, despite Novartis’ claims that it has “continued to focus on the promotion of women.”