According to NBC News, David Duvall filed a lawsuit against Novant Health, Inc. in 2019 after the establishment relieved him of his duties as the senior vice president of marketing and communications the year prior.
And per the suit, Duvall claimed he was fired without cause “as part of an intentional campaign to promote diversity in its management ranks.” He also added he was terminated because of his sex and race.
But Novant Health refuted the allegations, saying in court filings that Duvall was terminated for underperformance and assigning crucial work duties to subordinates.
“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,” Novant Health spokeswoman Megan Rivers said in a statement, per Winston-Salem Journal. “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,” Rivers added. “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.”
Novant Health employed Duvall in 2013. But the former executive said the company parted ways with him, and then replaced him with a Black woman and a White woman. Duvall said his termination came not too long before marking his fifth year as an employee of the company. Duvall claimed his termination was discriminatory and it violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
Duvall’s attorney, Luke Largess, told NBC News his client was a few days short of marking his fifth year at the company, and he could have received a bigger severance had he marked the milestone.
“The message is not to abandon diversity and inclusion, it’s to do it legally,” Largess said.
Court documents stated the jury established Duvall’s “race (Caucasian) and/or his sex (male) was a motivating factor in Novant Health’s decision to terminate him”, Business Insider reported.
“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,” Largess said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Duvall was a strong advocate of diversity at Novant,” Largess added. “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.”