Class action suit targets Novartis

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A US judge has ruled that Novartis Pharmaceuticals will have to defend itself against sex-discrimination claims brought by a group of female sales reps in a $100 million class-action lawsuit.

Judge Gerald Lynch granted class-action status to a lawsuit in US District Court in Manhattan against Novartis by 19 current and former sales employees.

The lawsuit, filed in 2004, alleged Novartis' pharma unit was discriminatory in its pay, promotions, evaluations and treatment of women who take pregnancy leave. About 5,000 women are believed to qualify as plaintiffs.

A Novartis spokesman said in published reports at press time that lawyers were still reviewing related documents.  

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