University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Velez v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation EE-NY-0210
Docket / Court 04-cv-09194 ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Special Collection Private Employment Class Actions
Case Summary
On March 13, 2006, a group of former and current female employees filed their fourth amended complaint under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e)-5(f), et seq., against the Novartis Corporation in the United States District Court in the Southern District of New York. The ... read more >
On March 13, 2006, a group of former and current female employees filed their fourth amended complaint under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e)-5(f), et seq., against the Novartis Corporation in the United States District Court in the Southern District of New York. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the Court for injunctive relief, back pay and front pay, and compensatory and punitive damages, alleging sex discrimination, including pregnancy discrimination. Specifically, the plaintiffs contend that the defendant discriminated in compensation, promotion, personnel evaluations and treatment of women taking pregnancy leave. Velez v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, 244 F.R.D. 249 (S.D.N.Y. 2007).

This action began on November 19th 2004, when a smaller group of plaintiffs filed their original complaint. While nothing too eventful went on in the initial stages of the trial, there was a large amount of discovery relating to the relationship between the parent company and its to its subordinate. There was also much ado about nothing in whether the Chairman of Novartis was being properly served notice on the case (see Order confirming proper service). Then, all at once, action really began on the case.

On August 16, 2007, the Court (Judge Lynch) granted class certification and defendant's motion for summary judgment. This order granted a class of all women who are currently holding, or have held, a sales-related job position with [NPC] during the time period July 15, 2002 through the present, including those who have held positions as Sales Representatives, Sales Consultants, Senior Sales Consultants, Executive Sales Consultants, Sales Associates, Sales Specialists, Senior Sales Specialists, and District Managers I. Velez v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, 244 F.R.D. 248 (S.D.N.Y. 2007). Furthermore, included in this class were any women discriminated against on the basis if pregnancy with respect to the issue of incentive-based compensation. Velez v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, 244 F.R.D. 267 (S.D.N.Y. 2007).

While the Court (Judge Lynch) certified the class, he also granted a motion of summary judgment for the defense. This ensured that the Corporation could not be liable for any Title VII violation by NPC. This judgment was based on lack of evidence from the plaintiff that the Corporation and NPC functioned as a single enterprise. Velez v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, 244 F.R.D. 254-255 (S.D.N.Y. 2007).

A jury trial commenced on April 7, 2010. The jury delivered a verdict on behalf of the plaintiffs and awarded compensatory and punitive damages. The trial concluded on May 19, 2010, with equitable relief to be order by the Court at a later date.

In light of this, the parties engaged in vigorous negotiations and entered into a Settlement Agreement in July 2010, according to which the defendant Novartis would pay $175 million in total and adopt other measures to reduce or eliminate discrimination against female workers.

On July 14, 2010, the Court (Judge Castel) preliminarily approved the settlement agreement. As of the time of this brief, the case is still ongoing.

Kunyi Zhang - 10/06/2010


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Defendant-type
Retailer
Discrimination-area
Accommodation / Leave
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Pay / Benefits
Promotion
Discrimination-basis
Pregnancy discrimination
Sex discrimination
General
Disparate Treatment
Pattern or Practice
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Defendant(s) Novartis Corporation
Plaintiff Description all women who are currently holding, or have held, a sales-related position with [NPC] since July 15, 2002, including: Sales Representatives and Consultants, Senior Sales Consultants, Executive Sales Consultants, Sales Associates and Specialists, etc...
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Megacases, Diversity, and the Elusive Goal of Workplace Reform
Written: Mar. 01, 2008
By: Nancy Levit (University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law)
Citation: 49 B.C. L. Rev. 367 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Second Generation Employment Discrimination: A Structural Approach
By: Susan Sturm (Columbia Law School)
Citation: 101 Colum. L. Rev. 458 (2001)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:04−cv−09194 (S.D.N.Y.) 08/31/2010
EE-NY-0210-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Fourth Amended Complaint 03/13/2006 (2006 WL 5216411)
EE-NY-0210-0001 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order confirming proper service 04/05/2006 (2006 WL 903228) (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0210-0008 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Order granting class certification and summary judgment for Novartis Corporation 08/16/2007 (244 F.R.D. 243) (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0210-0007 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Decision and Order 10/20/2009 (2009 WL 3395091) (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0210-0002 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Notice of Motion for Preliminary Approval of Settlement Agreement 07/13/2010
EE-NY-0210-0004 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Notice of Motion for Preliminary Approval of Settlement Agreement 07/14/2010
EE-NY-0210-0003 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Preliminarily Approving Settlement 07/14/2010 (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0210-0006 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Castel, P. Kevin (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0210-0006
Lynch, Gerard E. (Second Circuit, S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0210-0007 | EE-NY-0210-0008 | EE-NY-0210-9000
Maas, Frank S. (S.D.N.Y.) [Magistrate]
EE-NY-0210-9000
McMahon, Colleen (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0210-0002
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Corridan, Angela (District of Columbia)
EE-NY-0210-9000
Goldblatt, Lisa A. (District of Columbia)
EE-NY-0210-0001 | EE-NY-0210-0003 | EE-NY-0210-9000
Heisler, Jeremy (New York)
EE-NY-0210-0001 | EE-NY-0210-0003 | EE-NY-0210-0004 | EE-NY-0210-9000
Kimpel, Katherine M. (District of Columbia)
EE-NY-0210-0003 | EE-NY-0210-0004
Morris, Grant E. (District of Columbia)
EE-NY-0210-0003 | EE-NY-0210-0004
Sanford, David W. (District of Columbia)
EE-NY-0210-0001 | EE-NY-0210-0003 | EE-NY-0210-0004 | EE-NY-0210-9000
Wittels, Steven Lance (New York)
EE-NY-0210-0001 | EE-NY-0210-0003 | EE-NY-0210-0004 | EE-NY-0210-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Abram, Thomas G. (Illinois)
EE-NY-0210-9000
Chesler, Evan R. (New York)
EE-NY-0210-0004
Christensen, Andrea S. (New York)
EE-NY-0210-9000
Fitzpatrick , Vincent R. Jr. (New York)
EE-NY-0210-9000
Gelb, Aaron R. (Illinois)
EE-NY-0210-9000
Kagay, Sara Jeanine (Illinois)
EE-NY-0210-9000
Kirshner, Alison Ruth (New York)
EE-NY-0210-9000
McAtee, Darin P. (New York)
EE-NY-0210-0004
McDevitt, Heather (New York)
EE-NY-0210-9000
Pace, Jack (New York)
EE-NY-0210-9000
Schnadig, Richard H (Illinois)
EE-NY-0210-9000
Wexler, Jonathan Alan (New York)
EE-NY-0210-9000
Wolf, Charles Benno (Illinois)
EE-NY-0210-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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