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$31 million award against Walmart in retaliation case

In November 2012, a pharmacist was fired after working for Walmart for 18 years. She alleges it was retaliation on her employer's bar and gender discrimination that lead to her dismissal.

She filed a lawsuit in 2014, alleging many claims against the retail giant. She claimed that there were more than a dozen employees in the pharmacy that were fired, transferred or quit in the two years before she was fired. These positions, the lawsuit alleged, were not filled or were filled with workers that were inexperienced. The lawsuit stated, "this constant turnover, understaffing, and inexperienced staff created a serious threat to the safety of patients and resulted in regulatory violations regarding the safe practice of the pharmacy." The pharmacist got in touch with the New Hampshire Board of Pharmacy's chief compliance investigator. In 2012, she also told the district manager at Walmart who covered her area, but said nothing was done.

The woman alleges that she was experiencing anxiety, headaches, depression, and gastrointestinal symptoms because of the lack of support she received at work and the stress of the job. She was also taking prescription meds in order to sleep. Her doctor told her to take two weeks' medical leave. After her return, she found out that a pharmacy employee told other pharmacy employees that she took sleeping medications after allegedly accessing her private health record. The employee wasn't fired, but was reassigned in the same store.

The plaintiff does admit that she lost -- then found -- her pharmacy key when she was moving. She immediately reported the missing key per protocol. She was fired for it, but she says that other employees -- who were male -- were not fired for the same mistake.

The lawsuit also alleged wrongful termination, retaliation and discrimination. The jury heard the matter this month. They concluded that both state law and the Civil Rights Act had been violated when Walmart discriminated against the female employee. They also found that Walmart retaliated against the woman for trying to report the unsafe conditions. She was awarded $31.22 million. Walmart is appealing the verdict.

If you have been discriminated against because of your gender, race or other reason, or if you have experienced retaliation for being a whistleblower, you have a right to seek damages from your employer. An attorney can provide you with more information.

Source: Consumerist, "Walmart Ordered To Pay $31 Million For Retaliating Against Pharmacist Whistleblower," Chris Morran, Jan. 29, 2016

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