NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
A $100 million sex discrimination lawsuit was filed Thursday against Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., according to statement released by the plaintiffs.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 12 current and former female employees of Novartis, who describe a systemic pattern of discrimination in promotions, training, evaluations, compensation and disciplinary practices, according to the statement.
"We strongly disagree with the allegations made in this lawsuit and will vigorously defend ourselves in any court of law against this or any other lawsuit," Novartis said, but declined to comment in detail.
"Although the language of their policies suggests that Novartis supports working mothers, Novartis' employment practices say exactly the opposite. Actions, in this case, speak louder than words," attorney David Sanford of the law firm of Sanford, Wittels & Heisler, LLP, counsel for the plaintiffs, said in the statement.
"As soon as a woman indicates that she's planning to become a mother, her male supervisors start pushing her toward the exit," he added.
Novartis makes Gerber brand products as well as Maalox, CIBA Vision contact lenses and other products.
Shares of Novartis (down $0.17 to $48.33, Research) fell slightly in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.