Jury Awards $10 Million to White Male Executive in Discrimination Case

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The assemblage grant for David Duvall, who was fired from his occupation astatine Novant Health successful North Carolina successful 2018, is apt to beryllium reduced nether national law.

A Novant Health grooming  halfway  successful  Charlotte, N.C. 

Oct. 28, 2021, 8:33 p.m. ET

A national assemblage successful North Carolina has awarded $10 cardinal successful damages to a erstwhile wellness attraction enforcement who argued that helium was fired due to the fact that helium is simply a achromatic antheral and his leader was trying to diversify, tribunal records show.

The employer, Novant Health, which oversees 15 hospitals and hundreds of outpatient centers and clinics, argued that the erstwhile executive, David Duvall, had been fired due to the fact that his superiors “had precise small confidence” successful him arsenic a person — not due to the fact that of his contention and sex.

But a national assemblage recovered connected Tuesday that Mr. Duvall’s contention and enactment had been motivating factors successful his termination and that Novant Health had failed to beryllium that it would person fired him careless of those factors.

The assemblage awarded Mr. Duvall $10 cardinal successful punitive damages, a sum that is apt to beryllium reduced by the proceedings judge, according to Sachin S. Pandya, a prof astatine the University of Connecticut School of Law. He said that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act caps punitive damages astatine $300,000 for employers with much than 500 employees.

The verdict came astir 2 years aft Mr. Duvall filed a national suit against Novant Health, contending that helium had been fired to execute radical and sex diversity, successful usurpation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That instrumentality prohibits favoritism based connected race, color, religion, enactment oregon nationalist origin.

“We are pleased that the assemblage agreed with Mr. Duvall that his contention and sex were unlawful factors successful his termination — that helium was fired solely to marque country for much divers leaders astatine Novant Health,” Mr. Duvall’s lawyer, S. Luke Largess, said successful a statement.

He said that the assemblage had included six women and 2 men and that six were white, 1 was Hispanic and the forewoman was Black.

Mr. Duvall’s suit was “decidedly not a connection against diverseness and inclusion programs,” Mr. Largess said.

“The suit was lone astir the request to tally specified programs lawfully,” helium said. “We judge the punitive damages grant was a beardown connection that an leader cannot conscionable occurrence employees based connected their contention oregon sex to make opportunities to execute diverseness targets. That is plainly unlawful and precise harmful, and that is what the assemblage denounced here.”

Novant Health said that it disagreed with the verdict.

“We are highly disappointed with the verdict, arsenic we judge it is not supported by the grounds presented astatine trial, which includes our crushed for Mr. Duvall’s termination,” Novant Health said successful a statement. “We volition prosecute each ineligible options, including appeal, implicit the adjacent respective weeks and months.”

Novant Health, a nonprofit enactment with much than 35,000 employees, said the verdict would person nary effect connected its efforts to diversify its enactment force.

“Novant Health is 1 of thousands of organizations to enactment successful spot robust diverseness and inclusion programs, which we judge tin coexist alongside beardown nondiscriminatory policies that widen to each races and genders, including achromatic men,” the enactment said. “It’s important for each existent and aboriginal squad members to cognize that this verdict volition not alteration Novant Health’s steadfast committedness to diversity, inclusion and equity for all.”

In his lawsuit, Mr. Duvall said that helium had a palmy vocation successful selling and nationalist relations erstwhile Novant Health hired him arsenic a elder vice president of selling and communications connected Aug. 5, 2013.

On July 30, 2018, Novant Health fired him without informing and ordered him disconnected the premises immediately, the suit states.

Mr. Duvall said that his superior had told him that his termination had “nothing to do” with his enactment show and that helium had “done everything asked of him and more,” according to the lawsuit. Mr. Duvall’s occupation show “had been precise highly rated, some internally and externally,” the suit states.

Instead, Mr. Duvall contended that his termination had stemmed from “the distortion of a bully intention.”

In 2015, Novant Health signed onto a committedness by wellness attraction systems nationwide to code wellness inequities, which spawned a committedness to diverseness and inclusion, Mr. Duvall said successful tribunal documents.

By 2018, that committedness “had turned into avowed, adjacent boastful, ‘strategic imperative’ to trust connected radical and sex targets to reshape Novant Health’s enactment unit and enactment to bespeak the assemblage it served,” according to the documents.

“As a nonstop result,” Mr. Duvall was fired and replaced by a achromatic pistillate and a Black woman, and different achromatic men were besides dismissed without informing and replaced by women oregon members of number groups, his tribunal documents said.

Novant Health argued that Mr. Duvall’s claims were “premised connected implicit speculation wholly lacking successful evidence.”

As a highly compensated elder vice president, Mr. Duvall was expected to “perform exceptionally, not conscionable show bully oregon capable performance,” Novant Health said successful tribunal documents.

Mr. Duvall “fulfilled what was asked of him,” according to Novant Health, but “demonstrated implicit clip that helium was not exceptional oregon a successor” to his superior.

For example, Novant Health said that Mr. Duvall was “unable to talk publicly” successful beforehand of the committee of directors, which prompted the main enforcement “to question his command.”

Mr. Duvall’s superior “did not spot him arsenic an endeavor leader” who was consenting to collaborate with others, Novant Health said. And Mr. Duvall missed a captious gathering to sermon the “patient experience” with different executives, Novant Health said.

“From a endowment development, strategical planning, and succession readying perspective, I knew we could amended connected endowment successful David’s role,” Mr. Duvall’s superior wrote successful tribunal papers.

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