ST. LOUIS - Francine Katz, the former highest ranking female executive at Anheuser-Busch spent Wednesday on the witness stand explaining her role as vice president of Corporate Communications and Consumer Affairs.
Whether jurors believe she was a public relations executive or played a much larger role in the company is crucial to the case. Katz is suing Anheuser-Busch for gender discrimination claiming she was denied more than $9 million in compensation.
In direct testimony, Katz told jurors she was a leading strategist who testified before congress on behalf of the beer industry. She spoke of lobbying attorneys general to help prevent future government regulation, helping to prevent an increase to the excise tax, and developing global underage drinking and anti-drunk driving campaigns that saved lives and changed habits.
In cross examination, Anheuser-Busch attorney Jim Bennett got Katz to contradict what she said in a deposition from what she testified in court. In a deposition she said she filled the "identical" job as her predecessor, John Jacob. In court Wednesday she said she filled a "similar job." He also detailed her compensation, showing her stock options went from $876,000 in 2001 to $1.8 million in 2002.
Katz testified that one time when August Busch III was angry about an environmental issue, John Jacob told her Busch wouldn't confront her because he was afraid she would cry. Her attorney, Mary Ann Sedey, asked if she ever cried at work or to Busch. She responded, "No."
She testified August Busch III would invite senior men on hunting trips and his successor, CEO Pat Stokes, would invite the men on golf outings but she was never included and it made her feel "invisible."
Katz contends she took over for John Jacob and was paid about $1 million a year while he made $4.5 million a year. She told jurors she felt the gap would close but after six years she still made less than half his salary.
In a video presentation Wednesday, jurors saw Katz testify before Congress in 2004 on behalf of the beer industry, appear on the network broadcasts of "60 Minutes," "Dateline NBC," CNBC and local broadcasts on behalf of the company. The video presentation also showed her taking on the author of the South Beach diet who claimed beer made your belly fat.
Anheuser-Busch insists evidence will show Katz was good at her job, but she was no John Jacob, who was a civil rights icon and the most trusted advisor to August Bush III. Anheuser-Busch says Katz was well compensated for her role as a top level public relations executive and the process to determine her salary was gender neutral. Katz will be back on the stand Thursday.
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