A federal judge has significantly reduced the amount a jury recently ordered Walmart to pay a pharmacist who claimed she was wrongfully terminated.
In January, a New Hampshire jury ordered Walmart to pay $31.2 million to Maureen McPadden, who alleged she was fired after complaining about safety conditions and because of her gender.
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That award included $15 million in punitive damages, $15 million in compensation for unlawful discrimination based on gender, and $750,000 in back pay.
Walmart immediately sought post-trial relief, in a bid to have the award reduced and the verdict set aside. The company took particular issue with the $15 million award for punitive damages, arguing that the amount by law is capped at $300,000.
Apparently U.S. District Court Judge Steven J. McAuliffe agreed. He issued a subsequent judgment that reduced the punitive damages from $15 million to $300,000.
Rick Fradette, RPh, MPH, one of McPadden’s attorneys, said the award reflects the jury’s assessment that his client was a well-qualified and conscientious employee who was targeted for dismissal after complaining about the consequences of inadequate staffing.
“The fact that the award was reduced is not a surprise at all,” Fradette told Drug Topics
. “It doesn’t change the jury’s verdict. [The jurors] were offended by how Maureen was treated by Walmart.”
The $14.7 million reduction brings McPadden’s award to $16.5 million. Walmart is continuing its legal fight to have the verdict set aside.
McPadden worked for Walmart for more than 13 years. She said she was told she was fired for losing a pharmacy key. But McPadden contended that she was fired because she complained that customers at the store in Seabrook, N.H., where she worked, were receiving prescriptions that were improperly filled — the result of inadequate staffing.
She said that a male pharmacist who also lost a pharmacy key was not fired.