Katz refiles sex discrimination suit against A-B

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - The so called queen of beer, Francine Katz, filed a motion Thursday for a new trial in her sex discrimination suit against her former bosses at Anheuser Busch.

In May, jurors in the City of St. Louis sided with the brewery.

In the plaintiff's motion for a new trial, Katz's attorney writes, "This was a close case. The jury heard volumes of testimony and viewed a mass of exhibits during the course of a trial that lasted three weeks. It deliberated for the better part of two days, submitted numerous questions to the Court, and ultimately returned a verdict in favor of Defendant by a vote of 9 to 3 -- the bare minimum required for a verdict. Given the closeness of the case, any legal errors that occurred in the way the case was presented to the jury could have decisively influenced its outcome. Plaintiff Katz submits that there were three such errors which, whether considered individually or cumulatively, call for a new trial on her claim of sex discrimination in compensation under the Missouri Human Rights Act."

Katz, the former highest paid female executive at the brewery, filed her suit five years ago and claimed she made significantly less than her male counterparts because of her gender. Jury foreman Dorian Daniels sided with A-B. He said the jury took a hard look at the many spreadsheets, emails and other documents. He said jurors didn't factor in that the suit was over millions of dollars.

"We did understand it was about principles in this case, but the evidence was not enough to single out gender," Daniels said.

Jurors heard from three former CEOs, including August Busch the III and his son, August Busch the IV, and Patrick Stokes. Each CEO praised Katz, saying she was good at public relations. But that was her job and nothing more. They all said she was well paid for what she did.

Katz argued her role was much larger than traditional public relations because she lobbied lawmakers, attorneys general, and testified before Congress. She also testified in court that she helped create anti-drunk driving campaigns that saved lives and changed habits.

Testimony showed Katz made $1 million a year. Evidence showed there were two tiers on the key strategy committee. The men were all in tier one, while the two women were on tier two. A-B's President Dave Peacock testified the tier system had nothing to do with gender but instead a person's market rate.

In the end, nine jurors sided with Anheuser Busch after nearly three weeks of testimony and ten hours of deliberation.

Katz's case was among the most high-profile and high-dollar of its kind. So now, there is some speculation over how the verdict may affect future gender discrimination suits.

Some legal analysts say it's a blow to women's rights because it could set a precedent for other women and for businesses. But discrimination attorneys say each case is very different. So while there is fear the verdict will be discouraging, they say, it shouldn't be.

"In a high profile case like this, when an individual loses, it certainly can discourage others from bringing an action. [But] I don't think the fact that Ms. Katz lost this case means that any other woman who feels she's been unfairly paid is going to lose her case," said attorney Jerry Dobson.

Legal analysts also tell us they believe Katz faced a unique challenge because of her high level of pay. They say it's a challenge that generally does not come up in gender discrimination cases.

When asked for comment, an Anheuser Busch spokesman released this statement:

"Francine Katz was always treated and compensated fairly during her 20 years of employment at Anheuser-Busch, which the jury acknowledged with their recent verdict.

"Anheuser-Busch always has been and always will be committed to treating our employees fairly and consistent with the highest standards."


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