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Mass jury awards 2 million dollars in Wal-Mart bias suit

Written by: Staff
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BOSTON, June 20 (Reuters) A state jury in Massachusetts awarded almost 2 million dollars to a former employee of Wal-Mart Stores Inc, after finding that the retailer underpaid her and then fired her as a result of gender discrimination.

The woman who brought the suit, Cynthia Haddad, worked at Wal-Mart as a pharmacist from 1993 through 2004, before she was fired by the company, according to court papers.

The world's largest retailer has been plagued by complaints of underpaying its workers. It is also facing the biggest sexual discrimination case in US history. In that separate litigation, which has been granted class-action status, plaintiffs are charging that the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company underpaid and underpromoted women.

In her suit, Haddad charged that she was fired for demanding that the company pay her the wage differential and bonuses she was owed for filling a managerial position on an interim basis. She also claimed she was reprimanded for reporting missing drugs to the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

Also according to her suit, Wal-Mart officials told her that she had been fired for failing to keep the pharmacy secure.

The Massachusetts Superior Court jury in Pittsfield made its decision yesterday.

''We respect the jury's decision but we feel that it did not reflect the facts in the case, so we are studying the decision and have not ruled out an appeal,'' said Wal-Mart spokesman John Simley, in a phone interview today. ''Ms. Haddad was dismissed because of numerous violations of company policy.'' Haddad lives in the Western Massachusetts town of Pittsfield, about 130 miles (209 km) west of Boston.

REUTERS RKM BST0045

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