Sales reps& bias lawsuit against Novartis to move forward

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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 employees 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, according to published reports.

In his order, the judge also granted a request to dismiss claims against Novartis Corp., the pharmaceutical unit's parent.

The lawsuit, filed in 2004, alleged Novartis' pharma unit was discriminatory in its pay, promotions, evaluations and treatment of women who take pregnancy leave.

A Novartis spokesman said the company's lawyers just received the documents related to the lawsuit and were reviewing them.

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