ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR) – A former top executive for Anheuser Busch is suing the corporation for discrimination and seeking millions in back pay and damages.
Francine Katz, an attorney who served six years as the firm`s vice president of corporate communication and consumer affairs, charges she was underpaid by the firm. Katz was the first woman appointed to the company`s top management committee.
She discovered the pay differences when the firm was considering a buyout by In Bev in 2008. Her attorney Mary Anne Sedey said they would show she was underpaid by more than thirty percent.
The attorney for Anheuser Busch Jim Bennett told the jury her pay was based on her duties and the firm did not discriminate against her. In his opening statement he mentioned emails and letters from Katz to her supervisors thanking them and indicating she was happy to be working for the firm.
But once she saw the pay scales for members of the firm`s top management committee, Katz testified ‘It felt like someone had kicked me in the stomach. And on top of that it was humiliating because this was a public document.’
She pointed out that she had served more years on the strategic planning committee than some of the men who were making more than she was.
Familiar members of the Anheuser-Busch executive staff including former CEOs August Busch III and his son, August Bush IV are expected to testify in court.
The trial could last for more than two weeks.