Basel-based pharmaceutical group Novartis has reached an out of court settlement to pay up to $152.5 million (SFr160.4 million) to end a gender discrimination lawsuit.
The damages are to be divided between about 5,600 women employees of the Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, a United States affiliate of the group, covered by the 2004 class action lawsuit.
Another $22.5 million will go towards improving its gender equality policies. The measures include revising sexual harassment training and strengthening complaint procedures.
In a joint statement with Novartis, lawyers for the plaintiffs said Novartis had agreed to a “momentous settlement” that ensured “every woman who worked at Novartis over the past eight years has been compensated fairly".
In May a New York jury found the US affiliate had engaged in a pattern of discrimination against women who worked for the company between 2002 and 2007 in which their salaries were affected, promotions blocked and jobs lost because of pregnancies.
"While we believe that there was not systemic discrimination at the Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, the trial revealed that some of our associates had experiences influenced by managerial behavior inconsistent with our values," said Novartis CEO Joe Jimenez.
The Novartis settlement still needs the approval of a US district judge, scheduled for November 19.
In another development, Novartis increased its profit by 19 per cent in the second quarter of the year.
The company reported a net profit of $2.4 billion, while sales rose 11 per cent to $11.7 billion between April and June.
swissinfo.ch and agencies
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