A New Hampshire jury has ruled that retail giant Walmart must pay $31.22 million in damages to a pharmacist fired from one of its outlets in 2012.
Maureen McPadden had worked at Walmart for 13 years when she was fired, allegedly for losing her pharmacy key, Reuters reported.
But McPadden argued this was used as a pretext to fire her. The real reason she was let go was because she had raised concerns about customers being given the wrong medication at the store’s pharmacy due to poor staff training, she claimed.
Her discrimination case was based on the fact that the company did not fire a male member of staff who also lost his pharmacy key.
Much of McPadden’s award was linked to her gender discrimination claim, netting $15 million in punitive damages.
Walmart vowed it would appeal the decision and ask a judge to throw out the verdict.
“The facts do not support this decision,” spokesman Randy Hargrove told Reuters. “We do not tolerate discrimination of any type, and neither that nor any concerns that Ms. McPadden raised about her store's pharmacy played a role in her dismissal.”
By contrast, Mcpadden’s attorney Lauren Irwin was satisfied with the outcome, saying it was “a fair and just verdict.”
Another gender discrimination case is pending against the Arkansas-based retailer. Earlier this month, Rebecca Wolfinger, a former shift manager who was fired in 2012, alleged in a lawsuit she was told to choose between her kids and a career before being dismissed. At the time, she worked seven days a week.
She was fired after reporting the comment to a human resources manager.
Wolfinger alleged that male shift managers were not made to work a seven days a week.
In 2012, almost 2,000 women filed gender discrimination claims against Walmart alleging they missed out on pay and promotions. In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out a class action suit covering 1.5 million women employed by Walmart alleging pay and promotion discrimination, arguing the group of female employees was too broad to be considered a class, the Huffington Post reported.