A former Anheuser-Busch executive is suing the company for sexual discrimination, claiming that she was underpaid millions of dollars during her 20-year employment there because she’s female.
Francine Katz was the vice president of Cooperate Communications and Consumer Affairs, making more than $1 million a year while her male predecessor, John Jacob, made $4.5 million.
Katz says she learned about the discrepancy in pay when she saw tax filings during Anheuser-Busch’s sale to InBev. Six years later, she claims she was still making half what he made.
When she complained about the gender pay gap, she says former CEO August Busch III called her “ungrateful.”
During a contentious examination in court last week Busch referred to Katz’s attorney Donna Harper as “young lady.”
In his testimony Busch said Katz was good, but she was no John Jacob.
“[Jacob] was a broad-based executive who had been on the board of Coca-Cola,” Busch said. “He was on the board at Morgan Stanley, a big New York investment house. John Jacob knew every person in the United States that had anything to do with civil rights….He lead the community. He was a person you could not even put a value on. He could have made his own wages in our company…He was one in a million."
In addition to wage differences, Katz says she was left out of male-centered company functions like senior executive hunting trips and corporate golf tournaments. She said she was once told that Busch III wouldn't discuss an environmental issue with her because "he was afraid she would cry," ThinkProgress reported.
“This was a company run by men who were unaccustomed with working with women at high levels,” said Katz's other attorney, Mary Ann Sedey, in her opening statement.
The suit seeks at least $9.4 million for what Katz would have earned between 2002 and 2008 plus punitive damages.
Two hours after Busch testified in court, Anheuser-Busch released this statement: "As the evidence thus far has demonstrated, Ms. Katz's claims are false and unjustified and she was always treated and compensated fairly during her 20 years of employment at Anheuser-Busch."