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Jury Finds Novartis Liable for $250M in Female Discrimination Complaints

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Secretary Arne Duncan visits Horton's Kids, the Department of Education on-site tutoring activity.Women Claimed Novartis Discriminated Against Them Based on Gender, Pregnancy and Pay

Novartis, one of the world's largest drug companies, was ordered today by a New York jury to pay $250 million in punitive damages to current and former female employees who accused the company of discriminating against them.

The order comes on top of the $3.3 million in compensatory damages Novartis was ordered to pay earlier this week to 12 women who claimed in court that the company treated them unfairly because they were women and, in some cases, because they got pregnant.

A jury found Novartis guilty earlier this week of sexual discrimination.

A representative from Novartis, lauded for being one of the best places to work for mothers, said in a written statement that the company "strongly disputes" the claims of discrimination.

"We are disappointed in the jury's verdict," said the statement by Andy Wyss, head of Pharma North America and president of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. "For more than 10 years the company has developed and implemented policies setting high standards with regards to diversity and inclusion for the development of our employees."

The 5,600 female sales employee who are part of the class action lawsuit will each get a piece of the $250 million.

Next week, Judge Colleen McMahon will rule on whether the women were paid less than men and if she decides they were, Novartis could have to pay even more in damage

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By EMILY FRIEDMAN

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HCX Facts

Growth in women's share of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) occupations declined to 27% in 2011from a high of 34% in 1990. While women make up nearly half of the workforce, they were 26% of the STEM workforce in 2011.

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