Anheuser-Busch is in the midst of a gender discrimination trial.
Gender discrimination in the workplace continues to be a concern in the United States and now, one of the biggest American businesses will be going to court for this reason, the Associated Press reported. Anheuser-Busch, the maker of Budweiser and Bud Light, will have to convince a seven-woman, five-man jury that the executives treated Francine Katz fairly.
Katz ended her career with Anheuser-Busch as vice president of corporate communications and consumer affairs when she realized that she did not receive a comparable compensation package to her predecessor John Jacob. When Katz brought this up to former CEO August Busch III, he told her she was "ungrateful" for thinking this.
Prior to this conversation, Katz was satisfied with her $300,000 base salary, Busch told the court, writing in an email that he was generous to offer a higher counter-offer. However, Katz was unaware that she and fellow female executive Marlene Coulis had the smallest compensation packages, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch. Both women came across this discovery when Anheuser-Busch was in the midst of getting sold to Belgian brewer Inbev, when they were looking through past tax filings and HR software.
When Katz's lawyer Donna Harper asked Busch about the allegations, he explained that "we made [expletive] sure she was compensated," but Katz's role with Anheuser-Busch didn't compare to Jacob's.
"I like Francine Katz a lot and she knows it, but she wasn't my adviser," he said. "John Jacob was my senior adviser."
When Katz was on the stand, she mentioned that she would fly on a separate corporate plane whenever travel was necessary and was barred from golf tournaments and other executive-level outings. She told the jury that she "felt invisible."
Katz is seeking $9.4 million in punitive damages for her time with Anheuser-Busch between 2002 through 2008. The trial will resume on Monday, where Anheuser-Busch executive August Busch IV will take the stand to defend the beverage company's alleged actions.