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Case Name Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation EE-PA-0121
Docket / Court 2:05-cv-00404-TFM ( W.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Special Collection EEOC Study -- in sample
Attorney Organization EEOC
Case Summary
On March 24, 2005, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought this lawsuit against Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Judge Terrence McVerry was assigned to this case.

The EEOC alleged that the ... read more >
On March 24, 2005, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought this lawsuit against Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Judge Terrence McVerry was assigned to this case.

The EEOC alleged that the defendant-company discriminated against a female employee on the basis of sex and in retaliation for reporting the discrimination, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Specifically, the Commission alleged that the employee was sexually harassed by a superior, and after complaining to the Human Resources department, the superior retaliated against her by denying her the ability to be promoted and receive salary increases, excluding her from group emails and voicemails, and making her feel isolated and unwelcome in the office.

On April 11, 2005, the party who was the subject of the alleged discrimination motioned to intervene. The Court granted her motion on April 22.

The plaintiffs sought several forms of relief. The EEOC requested a permanent injunction barring defendant from retaliating against employees who complain about unlawful discrimination. It also requested that the Court require defendant to institute practices and programs that create equal employment opportunities for women and to make the affected female employee whole, by paying her damages related to losses she suffered as a result of the discrimination and retaliation (back pay, front pay, compensatory damages, medical expenses), as well as punitive damages. It also sought attorneys' fees.

On April 6, 2006, the defendant moved for dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, asserting that because the affected employee settled her claims against the company through a confidential monetary settlement and ended pursuing litigation in this matter. The defendant argued that since the complaint filed by the EEOC did not challenge a policy or practice or allege discrimination against any other employee, the Court did not have the required subject matter jurisdiction.

The Court denied the defendant's request on August 8. Although this was an issue of first impression in the circuit, the Court adopted the reasoning in a similar case out of the Eastern District of New York: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Bay Ridge Toyota, Inc., 327 F. Supp. 2d 167 (E.D. N.Y. 2004). In that case, Judge Glasser concluded that the employer’s private settlement of the employee’s sexual harassment claim did not bar the EEOC from bringing an action based on the discrimination alleged by the employee. Glasser concluded that the EEOC could still pursue injunctive relief even where the employee had entered into a settlement with the employer, because of the EEOC’s unique role in vindicating the public interest. Consequent to Glasser's opinion in Bay Ridge Toyota, the Court held that the EEOC's claim that sought damages for the affected individual employee (i.e., victim-specific relief) was barred, but that the EEOC could maintain its request for injunctive relief.

Soon after the Court denied defendant's motion to dismiss based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction, defendant appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to overturn the Court's order denying its dismissal. Defendant's appeal was denied on November 3, 2006, by Circuit Judges Dolores Sloviter, Richard L. Nygaard, and Michael A. Chagares, without stated reasoning.

On January 8, 2007, defendant moved for summary judgment. In support of its motion, Novartis advanced two arguments: first, it contended that because the EEOC now sought only injunctive relief, the Court had to dismiss the claim because the EEOC could not obtain injunctive relief as a matter of law; and second, it argued that no genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether its actions violated federal law, thereby defeating any possibility of injunctive relief as a matter of law.

The Court denied defendant's motion for summary judgement on September 28, disagreeing with both of Novartis' arguments.

A bench trial was held on February 4, 2008.

On October 15, 2008, the Court issued its ruling and judgment in the case. The Court found and ruled in favor of the defendant. The Court found that the EEOC failed to present any credible evidence to show that Novartis took any retaliatory “adverse action” against affected employee because she engaged in protected activity, i.e., complaining to Human Resources. Accordingly, the Court entered judgment in favor of Novartis. The Court stated that even had the EEOC presented that evidence, Novartis articulated legitimate, non-retaliatory reasons for taking certain adverse actions against the affected employee, that were not pre-textual for unlawful retaliation against the employee.

On January 13, 2009, the Court ordered that the EEOC pay defendant $3,863.60 in costs taxed.

The case is now closed.

Kevin Wilemon - 05/30/2008
Michael Beech - 03/10/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Defendant-type
Retailer
Discrimination-area
Discharge / Constructive Discharge / Layoff
Harassment / Hostile Work Environment
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
EEOC-centric
Direct Suit on Merits
No EEOC Final Resolution Type
Private Party intervened in EEOC suit
General
Disparate Treatment
Retaliation
Plaintiff Type
EEOC Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1981
Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Defendant(s) Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation
Plaintiff Description Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, on behalf of one or more workers that alleged sex discrimination and retaliation.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations EEOC
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filing Year 2005
Case Closing Year 2008
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Docket(s)
2:05-cv-00404-TFM (W.D. Pa.)
EE-PA-0121-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/21/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
EE-PA-0121-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/24/2005
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Intervenor's Complaint [ECF# 9]
EE-PA-0121-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/06/2005
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order of the Court (2006 WL 2290410) (W.D. Pa.)
EE-PA-0121-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 08/08/2006
Source: Westlaw
Appellate Decision [Ct. of App. ECF# 48-1]
EE-PA-0121-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/03/2006
Memorandum Opinion and Order of the Court [ECF# 62] (2007 WL 2905892) (W.D. Pa.)
EE-PA-0121-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 09/28/2007
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Findings of Fact and Conclusions of the Law and Order of Court [ECF# 106] (W.D. Pa.)
EE-PA-0121-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/15/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges McVerry, Terrence F. (W.D. Pa.) show/hide docs
EE-PA-0121-0003 | EE-PA-0121-0004 | EE-PA-0121-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Clickner, M. Jean (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
EE-PA-0121-0005 | EE-PA-0121-9000
Fawcett, Kristen T. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
EE-PA-0121-0006 | EE-PA-0121-9000
Griffith, Mark A. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
EE-PA-0121-9000
McNair, Jacqueline H. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
EE-PA-0121-0005 | EE-PA-0121-9000
Nychis, Peter G. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
EE-PA-0121-9000
O'Boyle, Judith A. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
EE-PA-0121-0005 | EE-PA-0121-9000
Smith, Rachel M (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
EE-PA-0121-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Flynn-Kozara, Abigail D. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
EE-PA-0121-9000
Lazala, Virginia (New Jersey) show/hide docs
EE-PA-0121-9000
Munsch, Martha Hartle (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
EE-PA-0121-9000
Watterson, Kim M. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
EE-PA-0121-9000

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