Gender and the Law Prof Blog

Editor: Tracy A. Thomas
University of Akron School of Law

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Anheuser-Bush Executive Sues for Sex Discrimination

Sex Discrimination Lawsuit Cites a "Frat Party"Atmosphere at A-B"

For two decades, [Francine] Katz was one of the brewer's staunchest defenders, and when she resigned in 2008 as its communications chief, she was among the company's highest ranking female executives. 


Now, Katz, who lives in Richmond Heights, is suing A-B and its parent company, A-B InBev, alleging the brewer discriminated against her based on her gender, in violation of the Missouri Human Rights Act.


In her lawsuit filed in Circuit Court in St. Louis in October 2009, Katz alleges that after was promoted in 2002 to vice president of communications and consumer affairs, her pay and bonus — $500,000 — was significantly less than that of John Jacob, a male colleague who previously held the position. Jacob is among those who may be called to testify.


By 2007, her pay and bonus was still 46 percent lower than Jacob's last full year of compensation before he retired, Katz alleges. She also alleges she received fewer stock options than every male employee on A-B's member strategy committee, which fluctuated between 15 to 20 members.


Katz also says that she and the only other female on the committee, Marlene Coulis, were the lowest paid committee members. Coulis, who was previously vice president of consumer strategy and innovation but no longer works at A-B, also is on the witness list and may be called to testify.


Katz complained about her compensation to her superiors in the years following her promotion, but only learned of the extent of the pay discrepancy in 2008 in a regulatory filing related to InBev's acquisition of A-B, she claims in her civil suit, which seeks back pay and punitive damages.


As part of her lawsuit, Katz also alleges the brewery encouraged a "frat party" and "locker room" atmosphere, excluded women from informal social networks and failed to give women assignments that would improve their career opportunities.

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