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Gender Discrimination Plaintiff Receives $31,220,000 Jury Award Against Walmart

Among employment lawyers, Walmart has a well-deserved reputation for engaging in unsavory employment practices. It is similarly notorious for taking hard-line positions against legitimate claims for discrimination, unlawful termination, and wage violations, even in cases where the company has egregiously violated employment laws. Employment lawyers in New York and throughout the United States who represent employees know that if you are going to pursue an employment discrimination claim against Walmart, you should not expect to reach a quick settlement. Undoubtedly, Walmart achieves enormous financial gains by intimidating potential plaintiffs into submission. However, Walmart’s no-holds-barred approach backfired this week when a New Hampshire jury awarded Maureen McPadden a verdict against Walmart for compensatory damages, back pay, Maureen McPadden lost wages, and punitive damages totaling $31.22 Million Dollars. Ms. McPadden’s employment discrimination complaint alleged, among other claims, that Walmart treated her less favorably than male employees, and that she was unlawfully terminated for having reported unsafe practices at the pharmacy at the Seabrook Walmart store where she had been employed as a pharmacist.

It is particularly noteworthy that of $15,000,000 of the verdict is for punitive damages for Ms. McPadden’s Title VII claim for gender discrimination. This suggests that the jury found that Walmart’s violations of federal anti-discrimination law were particularly egregious and willful. To get punitive damages for discrimination under Title VII, an employee must establish that the employer discriminated with malice or with reckless indifference to federally protected rights. Under federal law, the amount of punitive damages is based upon the “degree of reprehensibility” of the employer’s conduct. By any standard, the jury’s punitive damages award of $15,000,000 suggests that Walmart acted in a particularly vile manner.

The verdict issued in favor of McPadden is likely to diminish Walmart’s aura of invincibility. The path toward success against Walmart in the McPadden case does not appear to have taken very long. The entire case was resolved in just a little more than two years - a relatively brief period in the context of civil litigation, which can often seem like an endless process. The trial itself only lasted five days, and the jury reached its verdict within a matter of mere hours.

The McPadden verdict is likely to provide inspiration and encouragement for other female Walmart employees who were treated worse solely because of their gender. The flow of Title VII complaints of gender discrimination against Walmart continues, unabated, at courthouses throughout the United States. Last month, Rebecca Wolfinger, a former Walmart employee in Chamberburg, Pennsylvania, filed a discrimination complaint with the U.S. District Court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which alleges that given an ultimatum by male managers to “choose between work and family”. Some Walmart discrimination victims file their complaints in state courts, particularly in states with strong local anti-discrimination laws. For example, in a lawsuit filed with the New Jersey Superior Court in Camden County, Samantha Azzarano, a transgender worker, alleged that the manager of the store in Deptford, New Jersey where she worked subjected her to verbal abuse and a campaign of endless, unjustified write-ups.

Rapaport Law Firm applauds the courage and tenacity of Maureen McPadden and her employment lawyer, Richard Fradette, Esq.

The employment discrimination attorneys at Rapaport Law Firm in New York City have effectively pursued claims of gender discrimination against the nation’s largest employers. We are not afraid to take on formidable opponents. If you are a victim of discrimination in the workplace, call Rapaport Law Firm today to discuss your legal rights: ph. (212) 382-1600.
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