PITTSFIELD, Mass. (AP) _
A Berkshire Superior Court jury concluded Wal-Mart discriminated against Cynthia Haddad and awarded her nearly $1 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages Tuesday.
``It sends a message that you can't treat people poorly because of who they are,'' said David Belfort, Haddad's attorney.
Wal-Mart spokesman John Simley said Wednesday that the retailer was studying the verdict and has not ruled out filing an appeal.
``We respect the jury's decision, but we feel it did not reflect the facts in the case,'' Simley said. He said Haddad ``was dismissed for numerous violations of company policy.''
Haddad was fired in April 2004 after more than 10 years at a Wal-Mart store in Pittsfield. She claimed in court that she was fired because she asked to be paid the same as her male counterparts, including a bonus given to pharmacy managers. The company paid the bonus, then fired her two weeks later.
Lawyers for the retailer said she was fired because she left the pharmacy unattended and allowed a technician to use her computer security code to issue prescriptions during her absence, including a fraudulent prescription for a painkiller.
Haddad's lawyers argued that the prescription was filled 18 months before she was dismissed and without her knowledge, and that more severe infractions by male pharmacists went unpunished.