ST. LOUIS - It was a stunning scene at the Civil Courts building as the former "king of beer," August Busch III, arrived in the sex discrimination case filed by the woman some called the "queen of beer."
Francine Katz, the former vice president of Corporate Communications and Consumer Affairs is suing her old bosses because she claims she was undervalued and significantly underpaid.
All week, August Busch III's advance team has been scoping out entrances for the former CEO to quietly enter. When he arrived in court during a break he walked in through a back door and greeted everyone with a hand shake, even Francine Katz. Katz smiled and said, "Hello August."
After being peppered with questions about Katz's pay and whether he thought she should make $300,000 Busch glared at Katz's attorney and said, "You're damn right."
Katz contends she had a similar job to John Jacob and should have eventually closed the pay gap. Katz made about $1 million a year while Jacob made $4.5 million. During testimony, Busch repeatedly said Katz was good at public relations, but she was no John Jacob.
He said, "It would be like comparing apples to oranges."
Busch told jurors, "He [Jacob] was a broad-based executive who had been on the board of Coca-Cola. He was on the board at Morgan Stanley, a big New York investment house. John Jacob knew every person in the United States that had anything to do with civil rights….He lead the community. He was a person you could not even put a value on. He could have made his own wages in our company…He was one in a million."
Two hours after Busch's testimony, Anheuser Busch issued the following statement:
"As the evidence thus far has demonstrated, Ms. Katz's claims are false and unjustified and she was always treated and compensated fairly during her 20 years of employment at Anheuser-Busch."
While sometimes called the "king of beer," Busch seemed like the king of charm to some. He even kissed Katz's attorney, Mary Ann Sedey, on the cheek when he saw her in a courtroom hallway. When he left the witness stand he shook the judge's hand and turned to Katz saying, "Goodbye Francine."
Earlier in the day jurors heard from Marlene Coulis, the other woman on the strategy committee. Coulis testified that she and Katz were shocked when they learned they were considered tier two executives on the powerful strategy committee, while the men were considered tier one. The tier system became public when documents of the InBev buyout plan were submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2008.
Next week former Anheuser Busch CEO's Patrick Stokes and August Busch IV are scheduled to testify.