A former Wal-Mart worker will receive more than $5.5 million in both punitive and noneconomic damages after a federal jury in Connecticut found that the company retaliated against him for complaining about discrimination in the workplace.
While the jury disagreed with the plaintiff’s claim that Wal-Mart discriminated against him when the store fired him in April 2010, they did find that the company engaged in discrimination when it failed to rehire him for several positions for which he was qualified. This, the jury found, was a form of retaliation for previous claims of discrimination the plaintiff had made.
Were Wal-Mart’s actions unfair?
According to court documents, the plaintiff served as a market asset protection manager at Wal-Mart’s store in Waterford, Connecticut. The company laid him off as part of what it said was an effort to cut costs in the aftermath of the economic downturn of 2008. However, the plaintiff, who is African-American, argued that Wal-Mart was actually doing quite well at the time, as more customers were seeking the discounted products the store offers. He also claimed that a disproportionate number of the laid-off employees were African-American.
The plaintiff’s attorney stated that she believes the verdict is the largest single award for punitive damages in state history. She also said that the outcome would help her client “start the healing of the gross injustice” he experienced as a result of Wal-Mart’s actions. Attorneys representing the big-box retailer did say that they would explore their options for a possible appeal of the verdict.
Businesses and organizations cannot retaliate against individuals who complain about potentially illegal activities. For further guidance if you believe you’ve been the victim of whistleblower retaliation, contact a dedicated attorney at Whistleblower Law for Managers in Dallas, Texas.