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Wal-Mart shells out $31M for workplace discrimination lawsuit

A federal court case against Wal-Mart outside Massachusetts has come to a close. A former pharmacist for the retailer alleges that she was fired due to workplace discrimination based on her gender. She further alleges that her firing was also related in part to her being a whistleblower and voicing concerns about prescriptions that were improperly filled.

The 47-year old was with the company for 13 years before her firing. She asserts that the pharmacy staff was not trained properly, therefore causing prescriptions to be filled incorrectly. She brought her concerns forward, hoping that the situation would be resolved; however, she alleges it only led to her losing her job.

In 2012, the plaintiff lost the key she used to get into the pharmacy, which Wal-Mart apparently used as a reason for firing her. She claims that a male pharmacist had also lost his key, but he was only disciplined and able to retain his position. The woman believed that she was fired unjustly, and a jury agreed.

The plaintiff was awarded $31.22 million for her workplace discrimination claim, $15 million of which was for punitive damages. A spokesperson for Wal-Mart contends that the company does not tolerate discrimination of any kind, and the company intends to ask the trial judge to reduce what the plaintiff was awarded or completely toss out the verdict. It is illegal for Massachusetts employers to discriminate against workers due to certain protected classifications, including gender. Those who believe that they have been victimized have the right to pursue claims for legal relief through the civil court system.

Source: businessinsider.com, "A jury has ordered Walmart to pay a pharmacist $31 million", Jonathan Stempel, Jan. 28, 2016

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