$2M Pharmacist Verdict Affirmed by MA Supreme Judicial Court

In this 2009 anti-discrimination lawsuit, BFG won a favorable judgement against Walmart. Cynthia Haddad alleged unequal compensation and termination of employment based on gender as well as claims for defamation. Following a jury trial, Wal-Mart was found liable on the discrimination claim and Haddad was awarded $972,772 in compensatory damages and $1M in punitive damages.

Working women across the country are celebrating a legal victory for a woman in Massachusetts. Cynthia Haddad of Pittsfield sued Walmart for gender discrimination – and won.  Now, the state supreme court has upheld a multi-million dollar award for damages.

“I worked so hard to be who I was and to have that just taken away so quickly, so suddenly, gave me a lot of ammo to fight,” says Cynthia.

She’s been fighting since 2004, when she was fired from her 10-year job as a pharmacist at Walmart. She was working in the Pittsfield store when she asked her supervisors why she was earning less than her male counterparts.

They fired her for breaking ambiguous rules at the pharmacy but allowed male pharmacists to break pharmacy laws without any consequences.  Her attorney says it was discrimination because she questioned her lower salary for doing the same work as male pharmacists.  And she was fired for doing something that male pharmacists were allowed to do every day – leave the pharmacy area briefly to get something to eat.

“Walmart can be the largest company in the world, but for those 12 jurors, Cindy Haddad is just as important as Walmart. It’s a tremendous equalizer and the jury gets to say if she’s been wronged,” says her attorney Richard Fradette, of the New Hampshire law firm of Beliveau, Fradette, Doyle and Gallant, P.A.  He is also a pharmacist.

Cynthia was awarded $1 million in compensatory damages ($733,000 being front pay) and $1 million in punitive damages. Walmart fought the damages but Monday, a Supreme Judicial Court upheld the ruling.

“I keep running around the corner and going ‘Yay!’ I’m obviously very relieved at this point that it’s over. We’ve been waiting a long time,” said Cynthia.

Women are still waiting for equal salaries in the workplace, says one labor economist.

“Women today earn 77 percent of what men earn and those are full time year round workers,” says Marlene Kim, a UMass Boston professor who studies gender discrimination in employment.

“Even if they come out of the same university with the same GPA, same major… they earn less than men… and five years later, the wage gap widens,” Kim adds.

It’s a wage difference, Cynthia and her attorneys say, that’s worth fighting for.

“You gotta do it. Discrimination, if you don’t fight it, doesn’t stop. It will just continue,” Cynthia says.

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