Thursday, February 3, 2011

Class Action Suit Leads to Award for AAUW to Continue Pay Equity Work

AAUW to Receive Cy Pres Award for Work to Fight Gender Discrimination
Award Follows Groundbreaking Gender Discrimination Case Settlement
WASHINGTON – The American Association of University Women (AAUW) has been awarded $23,500 as part of a cy pres award from the judgment in the largest gender discrimination case to ever go to trial.
The class action lawsuit against Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation included approximately 5,600 women sales force employees who claimed gender discrimination based on pay, promotion, and pregnancy. A jury found Novartis liable for gender discrimination in May 2010, and the subsequent settlement was filed in federal court in New York in July 2010. Judge Colleen McMahon of the U.S. District Court for Eastern New York approved the final settlement agreement in November, and AAUW learned of its selection to receive a cy pres award in December.
Cy pres awards are the result of class action lawsuit funds and are typically distributed to charitable organizations. AAUW will receive this award to support its mission to advance equity for women and girls.
“We commend the brave plaintiffs and their extraordinary legal team in the Novartis case,” said AAUW Executive Director Linda D. Hallman, CAE. “They have broken through barriers for women employees of Novartis and for women employees around the world. We hope this case will inspire more women to stand up for their rights as workers and teach a lesson to those who would discriminate on gender or any other basis. AAUW is proud to be associated with this case and honored to be the recipient of an award that affirms our work against all forms of gender discrimination.”
The award from the Novartis settlement will help fund AAUW’s continuing advancement of women and girls through our programs, research, and advocacy, especially on the issue of fair pay. As this case demonstrates, wage discrimination remains a critical problem, and women's pay still lags behind that of men. On average, women make 77 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts, and they represent only a small percentage of those who hold top positions in business and academia. By some estimates, women may lose between $500,000 and $1 million because of wage discrimination over a 40-year career.
“We were so pleased to be able to recommend AAUW for a cy pres award,” said Katherine Kimpel, a partner at the firm Sanford, Wittels, and Heisler, LLP, who successfully represented the class of more than 6,000 current and former women sales employees at Novartis. “Having an ally like AAUW in the fight for gender equity is so important, and we trust that the cy pres award will help AAUW continue to make a difference in the lives of girls and women across the United States.  The victory in Novartis, although gratifying, is just one step in the right direction, as far too many employers continue to deny women workers their fair share of the American dream.”


  1. I think I might restate this post a little differently as I think this underplays some elements which may or may not be confusing you.

  2. Congratulations on the award! It is always encouraging to see justice brought to injustice and for big corporations to realise they are not invincible.