Now in Legal Rebels:
Posted Oct 27, 2009 11:54 pm CDT
A lawyer who formerly served as a top-ranking female executive at Anheuser-Busch InBev NV has sued the brewery giant for gender bias, contending that it paid women less than men and restricted their opportunities for growth while maintaining a “frat party” atmosphere.
Francine Katz, who left the company late last year after a 20-year career, filed suit in Missouri state court in St. Louis yesterday, seeking compensatory and punitive damages, reports Reuters.
She started her career there in 1988 as an associate general counsel in the company’s in-house legal department, reports the St. Louis Post Dispatch Lager Heads. Eventually, she became a vice president of communications and consumer affairs and a member of a company strategy-setting committee.
Her suit alleges that she was given the same duties as her predecessor, John Jacob, when she was promoted to replace him when he retired in 2002, the newspaper article recounts. But six years later, she was making less than half of what he had earned in 2001, Katz contends, while doing the job without the benefit of the administrative assistant and office suite including a conference room that Jacob was granted.
Katz contends that she found out about a pay discrepancy concerning herself and the only other female member of the strategy-setting committee from a draft regulatory filing prepared for InBev’s takeover of St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch Cos Inc., Reuters notes.
An Anheuser spokesman calls her claims “unjustified,” telling the news agency that Katz was paid fairly and that the company believes in treating employees fairly.