Finance News & Insights

Last year's top discrimination suits cost employers $346M

Employers that end up snared in a discrimination lawsuit are likely to pay through the nose, according to the findings in a recent workplace litigation report.

The 664-page Annual Workplace Class Action Litigation Report by the Chicago law firm Seyfarth Shaw analyzed 849 legal decisions against companies in state and federal court, which included both private plaintiff and government enforcement actions.

The most eye-opening stat in the report: The cost of the top-10 private plaintiff employment discrimination lawsuits in 2010 totaled $346.4 million. That’s a huge increase from the $84.4 million price-tag for the top-10 in 2009.

The largest settlement last year was the $175 million that Novartis Pharmaceuticals had to fork over because of a lawsuit alleging that the company discriminated against 5,600 current and former female sales reps in terms of pay and promotions.

It’s unlikely the trend of costly settlements will end soon. So execs should huddle with their HR and legal departments to ensure they’re doing everything possible to ensure the company won’t get hit with a discrimination claim.

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