Oftentimes, people ask how the topics of the blog entries I write about have an impact on employers in Birmingham and in Alabama. Well, to a federal jury in Anniston, the impact was in excess of $1 million. James King, who was a pharmacist at the CVS located in Pell City, was 65 at the time of the alleged wrongful conduct: he was suspended and then terminated from his position after he complained about his district supervisor making disparaging comments about his age. The jury, after hearing the evidence, awarded King $1 million in damages. I anticipate that the Judge will assess attorney’s fees and costs against CVS, adding to the total recovery. Interestingly, Roger Harris, another pharmacist at CVS in the same district, was awarded $400,000 following a trial alleging age discrimination in 2013.
Practice pointer: There are real life consequences of violating the law. Here, CVS was sued twice as the result of the alleged conduct of a single district supervisor and lost both times. Although I do not know for sure the exact amount of money it cost CVS to take these cases to trial, I do know that they have judgments totaling $1,400,000, the amount awarded to the plaintiff’s attorneys for fees and costs (probably in excess of $200,000 for both cases) and the payments to their own attorneys (probably in excess of $200,000 for both cases). Often overlooked is the cost in time spent by employees dealing with the lawsuits, (gathering records, being interviewed, depositions, meetings, etc.) instead of doing their jobs. Also, the morale of employees, in situations such as this, can be adversely affected. The conduct of one supervisor, by making disparaging comments about age, has been very costly to CVS. Proper policies, procedures, training and supervision, as well as taking the appropriate disciplinary action against any employee, including supervisors, is essential.