Retail giant Wal-Mart was recently ordered to pay $31.2 million to a former employee for gender discrimination and retaliation. Pharmacist Maureen McPadden, claims she was fired from a Seabrook, New Hampshire Wal-Mart pharmacy because of two reasons; her gender, and as retaliation for pointing out unsafe working conditions.
Prior to being fired, McPadden noticed that her staff was improperly filling prescriptions for customers, a result of inadequate training.
When McPadden accidentally lost her pharmacy key, the company used this as a pretext for firing her even though she had worked for the company for 13 years. McPadden believes that her gender played a large part in the reason she was fired. When a male employee similarly lost his key, he was merely reprimanded, not terminated. In addition, McPadden believes the company terminated her because she was outspoken about the unsafe working conditions.
Though a jury awarded McPadden $15 million in punitive damages, Wal-Mart has asked the judge to reject the verdict or reduce these damages.
This isn’t the first time Wal-Mart has been accused of gender discrimination. In 2012, five Wisconsin women sued the company for claims that the company denied them (and other female employees) equal pay and promotions. Though 72 percent of hourly employees at Wal-Mart are female, only 33 percent hold managerial positions.
What do you think of McPadden’s claims and the jury’s verdict?