A former Wal-Mart pharmacist who claimed she was fired after asking to be paid the same as her male colleagues won a nearly $2 million award against the retail giant this week in Massachusetts.
A Berkshire Superior Court jury concluded that Wal-Mart had discriminated against Cynthia Haddad and awarded nearly $1 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages.
The verdict came after eight hours of deliberations and a two-week trial.
Haddad sobbed, but did not comment after the verdict.
“It sends a message that you can’t treat people poorly because of who they are,” said David Belfort, Haddad’s attorney.
Wal-Mart’s attorneys did not comment after the verdict.
Haddad was fired in April 2004 after more than 10 years at the Pittsfield Wal-Mart. She claimed in court that she was fired because she asked to be paid the same as her male counterparts, including a bonus given to pharmacy managers.
The company paid the bonus, but fired her two weeks later.
Lawyers for the retailer said she was fired because she left the pharmacy unattended and allowed a technician to use her computer security code to issue prescriptions during her absence, including a fraudulent prescription for a painkiller.
Haddad’s lawyers argued that the prescription was filled 18 months prior to her dismissal and without her knowledge; Wal-Mart had never fired anyone else for the charge of “failure to secure the pharmacy;” and that more severe infractions by male pharmacists went unpunished.
Wal-Mart also said that while Haddad carried a manager’s title, she did not perform a manager’s duties.
Information from: The Berkshire Eagle,
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