David Duvall made headlines last week for winning a wrongful termination lawsuit against his former employer. As a white man and the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications by Novant Health, Inc., people across social media found it hard to believe his claims.
Duvall had been working for the non-profit health system for five years until he was fired without warning on July 30, 2018. According to sources, he was immediately replaced by two women – one White, one Black. But it was the actions leading up to the diversity push that made him suspicious.
The workplace discrimination attorney handling this case found Novant did not follow their normal termination protocol. Duvall did not receive a 30 days’ notice, nor did he get an explanation why it was not applicable for him as an executive. His performance reviews showed he was doing extremely well – exceeding expectations. This evidence only furthered his attorney, Luke Largess’ argument that this was a case of sex discrimination and race discrimination.
The jury found that the plaintiff had been targeted for being “Caucasian” and “male.” Those two factors alone were a driving factor for Novant Health’s decision. In court, the organization was unable to prove they would have made this choice otherwise had race or sex not been a factor.
$10 million has been awarded in punitive damages – though Novant does not agree with the verdict. Largess shared Duvall was an advocate for diversity and inclusion in his senior role. That’s what made this lawsuit so ironic. He issued this statement with CNN:
“We believe the punitive damages award was a message that an employer cannot terminate and replace employees simply based on their race or gender in order to achieve targets for greater diversity in the workforce. It is plainly unlawful and harmful and that was obvious to the jury,” he said.
With any employment dispute, it’s best to consult with a labor attorney for employees immediately. While it might feel nerve-wracking, we can assure you that it will be beneficial in the long run.