In $31m award, Jury finds that Walmart retaliated against worker

A pharmacist fired by Walmart after reporting safety problems was awarded $31m in damages by a jury Friday.

ABC News:

The jury awarded most of the money Thursday based on gender discrimination claims, but also found Wal-Mart's conduct was retaliation for her complaints about safety issues and/or privacy violations.

McPadden, 51, said she was confident she would prevail even before the jury announced its verdicts after about three hours of deliberations.

"I honestly feel the jurors listened intently," she told The Associated Press. "I really feel they wanted to send a message that the little guy has a voice, that Wal-Mart did something wrong."

The Consumerist reports on exactly how you get fired at Walmart.

In the two years leading up to her dismissal — which Walmart blamed on the pharmacist losing her key to the pharmacy — the plaintiff said that 13 different pharmacy employees either “quit, transferred, or were fired,” and that Walmart either left these positions vacant or replaced these workers with “new inexperienced employees.”

“This constant turnover, understaffing, and inexperienced staff created a serious threat to the safety of patients and resulted in regulatory violations regarding the safe practice of pharmacy,” reads the complaint.

In 2011, believing that “too many mistakes were occurring” in the pharmacy and that the lack of properly trained staff presented a public health risk, the plaintiff contacted the Chief Compliance Investigator of the New Hampshire Board of Pharmacy.

Notable Replies

  1. In case some people don't go to the link to read the whole thing (which is very short), the kicker is in the last paragraph: "So of course the company — which spent more than $2 million and five years fighting a $7,000 safety fine for a worker who was trampled to death on Black Friday — has said it is going to appeal the verdict."

    They're going to try to bankrupt the pharmacist.

  2. I'd wager that the lawyers are working for a piece of the awarded amount. I don't think the Pharmacist is going to be out of pocket for this. Although I don't think the payout is coming any time soon and that chunk for the lawyers will probably be 80% of the settlement.

  3. Among the plethora of things I don't get about the States is how these fines are calculated.

    Walmart had $482.2 Billion in net sales - WTF difference is a $31M award going to make? They have vendors whom they pay more than that on a quarterly basis. If the goal of the ruling is to change behavior- and if once you incorporate you're no longer personally responsible- then these fines need to be a % of total earnings.

    As should all fines. Ex: a speeding ticket of $200USD means two very different things to someone on minimum wage vs someone who makes $150k - yet isn't the goal, with both drivers, to issue a fine as a disincentive?

    How is pocket change - which $31M is to Walmart - a disincentive??

  4. Memo to Wal*Mart:

    A worker who points out a safety violation is saving you money. Fixing a violation costs a few hundred dollars. Settling a suit from an injured shopper costs millions.

    I understand the manager's ego might be wounded, but there's as much money at stake as ten thousand Barbie Dream Houses. You might consider canning the manager instead.

    You're welcome.

  5. In this case it would have required paying living wages to deal with turnover. That gets to the heart of the mediocrity of cheapness.

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