A New Hampshire federal jury recently hit Walmart with penalties upwards of $31 million for incidents of gender bias and illegal retaliation against a former pharmacist for the company who reported a variety of safety concerns involving her coworkers.
According to the lawsuit, Walmart negligently supervised and trained its pharmacy staff at its Seabrook, New Hampshire store. The plaintiff alleged she was fired after 18 years of working for the store because she alerted authorities to unsafe practices and safety violations and because she was a woman who also had a serious medical condition.
The plaintiff claimed that in the two years leading up to her firing, which Walmart publicly said was because the pharmacist had lost her key, she said there were 13 different pharmacy employees who either quit, were fired or transferred. When these positions became available, Walmart regularly left these positions empty or replaced the workers with inexperienced and underqualified employees. In her complaint, she said that the constant turnover and lack of appropriate staff experience resulted in a threat to patient safety and a constant slew of regulatory violations.
She contacted the New Hampshire Board of Pharmacy’s Chief Compliance Officer in 2011 with her concerns, and in 2012 brought her concerns to the Walmart district manager. However, no action was taken to correct the problems.
Ultimately the stress of her job, coupled with the lack of Walmart’s support, led to her losing nearly 20 pounds and experiencing a variety of health problems. When she returned after a physician-advised break, she discovered another pharmacy tech had accessed her private health records and told other employees about her condition and use of medication. Walmart eventually became tired of her reports and simply terminated her employment.
For further guidance on whistleblower and retaliation claims, and how they might impact your company, work with the skilled Dallas attorneys at Whistleblower Law for Managers.