ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR) -The man at the helm of Anheuser Busch when the firm was sold to InBev defended the company`s treatment of its top female executive in court Tuesday. 49-year old August Busch IV took the stand at the St. Louis Civil Courts Building. He was called to testify in a pay discrimination lawsuit filed by former Anheuser Busch Vice President of Consumer Affairs and Communication Francine Katz.
Ms Katz charges the work she did was never properly evaluated and that as a consequence she was underpaid when compared to male members of the firm`s Strategy Committee, a top executive committee.
Busch IV testified the firm celebrated Francine Katz`s accomplishments but never gave her the title of Global or Chief Executive Communications Officer which she had asked for. Donna Harper questioned Busch on Ms Katz`s behalf. She pointed out numerous not for profit groups Katz successfully dealt with when they were challenging the existence of Anheuser Busch.
‘In fact Francine Katz was the best in the business?’ Harper asked Busch IV. ‘Yes’ he replied. Harper persisted asking several more questions about Katz`s work and success.
Jurors paid close attention as Busch IV answered. Some took notes in their court provided notebook. Harper turned to a text message sent via Blackberry phones by Katz to Busch IV in October of 2006. It read, ”I would like to be given Jake`s ( John Jacob ) title of Chief Communications Officer a title common in most other corporations for someone in my position I would not have asked for this when Jake was still here..but I have been doing this job for four years and now that he is leaving, I would like to ask that my title reflect my responsibilities.’
Busch IV, who was just about to add the national CEO job to his responsibilities of running the beer producing company, replied ‘Let me think about it.’
Harper challenged Busch IV saying, ‘ Sir you never gave her the title even though she was in fact the chief communications officer.’ ‘No I disagree,’ he replied. Harper showed him how his deposition differed from his testimony. Busch said he misunderstood the deposition question.
Busch IV was asked how the firm rated top executive officers and determined their salaries during his tenure as CEO. Katz argues that her work was undervalued and that she should have been paid more based on the responsibilities she performed.
Her lawyer introduced a document showing in June of 2006 six male company executives who did not serve on the top Strategy Committee as Katz did were all assigned higher market rate salaries than Katz. Those decisions impacted the size of bonuses and stock options awarded to successful executives.
During questioning about how he treated an executive Bob Lachky whose pay was not reduced when he was removed from a job on the strategy committee,
Katz`s lawyer repeatedly pointed to instances where male executives had their market rates re-evaluated when given extra responsibility. Yet Katz who was given additional assignments never got that re-evaluation.
Some male executives received plum consulting contracts when they left the firm.
Busch IV defended an executive Bob Lachky known for his creative contributions including the campaigns ‘Wassup’ and ‘Real Men of Genius’ that proved profitable for the firm. Under cross examination by the Anheuser Busch attorney Jim Bennett, Busch IV said Lachky lost his bonus and received smaller stock options when he was demoted at the behest of Busch`s father August Busch III.
‘I tried to get in front and take bullets for these executives,’ Busch IV said going on to describe his father as ‘a powerful personality as you saw the other day in court.’ Busch III remained as Chairman of the Board during a portion his son`s tenure as CEO. ‘You didn`t always know if he was giving advice or absolute direction at times,’ Busch IV said about his dad.
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