A jury found Baxter International Inc. guilty Dec. 9 of gender discrimination, a decision Baxter said it will appeal.
The jury in U.S. District Court in Harrison, Ark., ruled in favor of Kathryn Wedgeworth, a longtime employee who said she was denied a promotion. The jury awarded her $64,000 in punitive damages and $256,000 in compensatory damages. The court has not ruled on an injunction that would require Baxter to promote Wedgeworth to the next available management position.
Wedgeworth works at Baxter's Mountain Home plant, which makes products used to treat people with immune deficiencies, infectious diseases, cancer and kidney disease.
``We do disagree with the verdict and will pursue all available remedies,'' said Tom Kline, a spokesman for the Deerfield company. ``We are disappointed because we do not feel that the verdict reflects the facts of this particular case. Gender played no part in the promotion decisions at issue here. Our promotion decisions are based on good faith, honest assessments of our needs and the skill sets of the respective candidate pool.''
In testimony, the company said that the individuals promoted to plastics production manager and transfusion therapies manager were better qualified and that Wedgeworth was a good candidate but not the best because, among other things, the company did not feel she was good at reaching a consensus with others.
Wedgeworth joined Baxter in 1975. Her lawsuit was filed Nov. 15, 2005, about one year after the managerial positions were posted. Since August 2000, she has worked as a quality section manager at the plant.