This past Friday, a very interesting and closely followed workplace discrimination lawsuit against filed against Anheuser-Busch came to a close when a jury returned a verdict siding with the beverage giant.
The lawsuit in question was filed back in 2009 by Francine Katz, a former top Anheuser-Busch executive who was well known for her defense of her employer from both state and federal lawmakers, as well as anti-alcohol lobbyists.
According to the complaint, Katz was made a member of Anheuser-Busch’s powerful strategy committee, and promoted to vice president of communications and consumer affairs back in 2002, two positions she held until the sale of the St. Louis-based institution to the Belgium conglomerate InBev in 2008.
The compliant went on to allege that during her time in these positions, she was paid only half of the salary commanded by her male predecessor, and subjected to a “boys-club” mentality that left her excluded from multiple business opportunities.
During the course of the trial, Katz submitted evidence backing up these allegations, and also demonstrating that her job duties often consisted of covering matters outside of the area of public relations.
Katz, who left the company shortly after the InBev sale, sought just over $9 million in back pay, $5 million in interest and unspecified punitive damages.
For their part, Anheuser-Busch argued in court that Katz’s salary, bonuses and benefits were commensurate with similar positions in other major U.S.-based corporations, and that her predecessor had performed more duties, including serving in an informal capacity as an advisor to August Busch III, former CEO.
In the end, the jury ruled in favor of Anheuser-Busch, finding that it did not discriminate against Katz.
While disappointed in the ruling, Katz indicated that she was happy to have been able to bring her fight to the public eye, hoping it will inspire more women to fight unlawful discrimination.
“I feel that all of the attention and discussion this lawsuit has sparked is all for the good,” said Katz. “I hope this opens the door for women in the workforce. We may not have won, but you can’t ever win if you don’t try.”
It remains to be seen whether Katz will appeal the decision …
Consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you believe that you’ve been victimized by any form of employment discrimination. Together, you can discuss your rights and your options for securing justice.
Source: The New Jersey Herald, “Former Anheuser-Busch VP loses discrimination suit,” Alan Scher Zagier, May 16, 2014