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Lawsuit alleges wrongful discharge, sex discrimination

The attitude toward women in the workforce in West Virginia and across the country has improved greatly over the course of the last 50 years. However, there are still improvements that need to be made. One recently filed lawsuit against Alcon Laboratories and Novartis sheds some light on sex discrimination issues that may still be occurring in this country.

The lawsuit was filed by two former female employees of Alcon Laboratories who claim that male executives created a hostile work environment and inhibited the advancement of their careers despite their qualifications. One of the woman is seeking $10 million and reinstatement. She claims that she is a victim of wrongful termination, pay discrimination and retaliation. In court papers, she argues that she received lower performance ratings because she went on maternity leave and was told that she would not receive raises until she proved herself. According to her complaint, she was fired while on medical leave that was federally protected and after she questioned an executive regarding how the company would address gender issues.

The second woman is seeking $100 million that would be awarded to her and other women in director positions who join her lawsuit. She resigned from the company after approximately 17 years of employment, claiming that career-enhancing projects and other opportunities were often given to men who were no more, and sometimes less, qualified than she. Novartis has previously settled a sex discrimination lawsuit for $175 million.

Federal laws forbid the discrimination of people based on a variety of different features, including gender. Unfortunately, sex discrimination, as well as other forms of discrimination, still occur in West Virginia and across the country. By taking legal action against a company that has violated the law, a message is sent that such behavior is both unacceptable and illegal.

Source: star-telegram.com, "Ex-workers sue Alcon, allege gender and pay bias", Sandra Baker, March 17, 2015

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