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$2 Million Equal Pay Discrimination Case Against Wal-mart Upheld by Court

October 9, 2009

As Orange County, California Employment Lawyers, we have been following the gender-based pay discrimination case settled this week in Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, where $2 million in damages were awarded to Cynthia Haddad, a former Wal-mart employee. Haddad claimed in the suit that she was dismissed in retaliation from Wal-mart Stores, Inc. after requesting equal pay in the workplace.

This verdict ends a lengthy battle between Haddad and Wal-mart, who originally filed the gender-based discrimination suit four years ago.

In 2004, after a ten-year career as a pharmacist for Wal-mart, Haddad was fired. According to Wal-mart, her termination was caused by failing to leave the pharmacy secure, and giving a technician access to her computer and security codes in her absence.

Haddad alleged in the discrimination suit that she accepted a temporary management job at the Pittsfield store pharmacy, that promised to include a bonus and a raise of $1 an hour. For several months she received neither a pay increase or a bonus, and was paid less money than her male colleagues--so she reported the issue to her supervisors. Haddad claims that she was fired in retaliation after registering the gender-based pay discrimination complaint.

The Associated Press reported that in the hearing from 2007, the jury ruled in Haddad's favor, and awarded her $2 million in discriminatory damages against Wal-mart--for compensatory and punitive damages as well as emotional stress. The $1 million in punitive damages was later revoked by the judge, who cited an "insufficient basis" for the jury's decision.

The state's highest court ruled this week that the $1 million in punitive damages should be upheld, that the jury had reasonable evidence to support that Wal-mart acted with a discriminatory agenda, and that Haddad's firing was under a false pretext.

According to the Boston Globe, the verdict also upheld a jury award for future wages lost--more than $700,000 for the nearly 20 years that she would have had left working with the company before retiring.

Justice Judith Cowin stated in the unanimous ruling that there was indeed evidence that Haddad was paid significantly less than male pharmacists who were less experienced, and that Wal-mart refused to pay the discrepancy in managerial salary in comparison to her male pharmacist colleagues. Cowin also ruled that Wal-mart terminated Haddad for what seemed to be a single policy violation, yet did not fire male pharmacists for similar or more "serious infractions involving violations of State and Federal law."

Howard Law, PC represents employees who have experienced gender-based pay discrimination in Orange County or throughout Southern California, and who are seeking recovery. Our team of experienced California Labor & Employment Attorneys will aggressively represent you, and protect your employment rights. Contact us today.

Court Upholds $2M Award to Wal-Mart Pharmacist, Associated Press, October 7, 2009

Court Reinstates Wal-mart Damages, The Boston Globe, October 6, 2009

Massachusetts Jury Awards $2 Million in Wal-mart Bias Suit, CNN, June 20, 2007

Related Web Resources:

National Women's Law Center, NWLC

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, EEOC