A former North Carolina hospital executive who claimed he was fired because he’s a White male was awarded $10 million in a reverse discrimination lawsuit Tuesday.
Novant Health is ordered to pay $10 million in punitive damages to David Duvall, its former senior vice president of marketing and communications, a federal jury in Charlotte decided.
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Duvall claimed in a 2019 lawsuit that he was let go from his job in July 2018 because of the health system’s diversity efforts, and that he ended up being replaced by one Black woman and one White woman.
Duvall accused Novant of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits race and gender discrimination in the workplace.
The jury sided with Duvall, and said Novant Health failed to prove that it would have terminated him regardless of his race.
“We are pleased that the jury agreed that Duvall’s race and gender were unlawful factors in his termination – that he was fired to make room for more diverse leaders at Novant,” S. Luke Largess, Duvall’s attorney, said Tuesday night in a statement, the Winston-Salem Journal reported.
“Duvall was a strong advocate of diversity at Novant,” Largess said. “We believe the punitive damages award is a message that an employer cannot terminate and replace employees in order to achieve greater diversity in the workforce.”
Novant Health released a statement Tuesday saying it was “extremely disappointed” and may appeal the decision.
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“We are extremely disappointed with the verdict as we believe it is not supported by the evidence presented at trial, which includes our reason for Mr. Duvall’s termination,” the statement said. “We will pursue all legal options, including appeal, over the next several weeks and months.
“Novant Health is one of thousands of organizations to put in place robust diversity and inclusion programs, which we believe can co-exist alongside strong non-discriminatory policies that extend to all races and genders, including White men,” it continued. “It’s important for all current and future team members to know that this verdict will not change Novant Health’s steadfast commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity for all.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.