Jury Clears Anheuser-Busch of Gender Bias


ST. LOUIS (CN) - A jury found that Anheuser-Busch did not discriminate against a former top-ranking executive who claimed she was underpaid because she is a woman.
     Francine Katz sued the beer giant in St. Louis City Court in 2009.
     A jury of seven women and five men deliberated for about 10 hours over two days before finding in favor of Anheuser-Busch late Friday. Nine jurors, five women and four men, found in favor of Anheuser-Busch.
     The trial lasted more than three weeks and more than 30 witnesses testified. Those witnesses included August Busch III and his son, August Busch IV. Testimony included information about promotions and pay, golf outings and hunting lodges, job titles and corporate practices.
     Katz worked for Anheuser-Busch from 1988 until InBev bought out the St. Louis icon in 2008. She claimed that she made more than $1 million annually after being promoted in 2002 to vice president of communications and consumer affairs.
     But five years after her promotion, she claimed, her base salary and bonus was still 46 percent lower than her male predecessor and less than every male on Anheuser-Busch's strategy committee. She said she didn't find out about the discrepancy until she saw a regulatory filing tied to the InBev purchase.
     Anheuser-Busch executives testified positively about Katz's job performance, but also testified that she was paid fairly.
     Jury foreman Dorian Daniels, 30, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the jury took a hard look at the many spreadsheets, emails and other documents presented and couldn't find evidence of sexual discrimination.
     "We did really have to focus on the facts," Daniels said. "I believe I didn't have enough evidence to support it (claims of discrimination)."
     Katz sought $9.4 million in under-compensation and about $5 million in interest for back pay dating back to 2002. Katz's attorney said it was premature to know if she would appeal.
     "I am disappointed, but at the same time I think that all the attention and discussion this lawsuit sparked will do some good," Katz told reporters.
     Anheuser-Busch issued a statement shortly after the verdict.
     "We are pleased with today's verdict, and the jury's acknowledgment that Francine Katz was always treated and compensated fairly during her 20 years of employment at Anheuser-Busch," A-B spokesman Adam Warrington said.