Targeting Employers For Gender-Based Pay And Promotion Discrimination: The Next Big Thing?

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Preventing and defending claims of gender based pay and promotion discrimination is fast emerging as the latest challenge for employers seeking to reduce litigation risks. That these claims could be “the next big thing” is clear from recent jury verdicts, pending legislation in Congress, and headline-grabbing court decisions:

• The Ninth Circuit affirmed class action certification of the largest gender discrimination class in the country’s history based on Wal-Mart’s allegedly discriminatory subjective pay and promotion practices.

• A jury in the Southern District of New York found Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation liable for three class-wide issues of pay, promotion, and pregnancy discrimination in a suit brought on behalf of 5,600 female sales employees, and subsequently awarded the plaintiffs $250 million in punitive damages.

• President Obama has emphasized that closing the wage gap is a central initiative for his administration and both the president and Congress are promoting legislation, including the Paycheck Fairness Act, in an effort to close the wage gap.

These court decisions and legislative initiatives raise the spectre of a flood of class claims against employers for pay and promotion discrimination. There are, however, steps employers can take to minimize their risks.

Please see full alert below for more information.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati | Attorney Advertising

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