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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Anheuser Busch is being sued by top executive

ST. LOUIS, MO  – A former top executive at Anheuser Busch who is suing the brewery over pay discrimination found her testimony under attack by the beer giant`s lawyer Wednesday. Francine Katz said after six years as the chief spokesman for the firm and its vice president of communication and consumer affairs she was paid half the salary and bonus that her predecessor received. She also said her stock options were not as substantial as those received by John Jacob whose place she took.
Katz described their responsibilities as similar but not identical. She asked that she receive the title of Chief Communication Officer because she was carrying out that responsibility. But she testified she never received the title.

Katz`s attorney, Mary Anne Sedey objected several times when Jim Bennett representing Anheuser Busch tried to suggest Katz was lying. He repeatedly compared her recorded deposition to her testimony before the jury. Katz, who is also an attorney, told Bennett he was taking her words out of context. At one point he tried to catch her on a statement about when Jacob retired. Sedey complained he was using a court document that had been corrected and re-filed as an amended petition.

During Sedey`s questioning of her client she played multiple television stories in which Katz served as the national spokesman for Anheuser Busch on a range of controversial issues including underage drinking. Katz appeared on Sixty Minutes , NBC`s Today Show, CNN, FOX2 News and Dateline NBC. Katz testified she served as the company`s spokesperson from the early 19-90s until she left in 2008.

Sedey pointed out the spokesperson job was one Jacob never held. When she left the firm the news release issued by Anheuser Busch described her role as ‘chief communications officer,’ but it was not capitalized. Bennett jumped on that during cross examination pointing out the capitalized title was Vice President of Communications and Consumer Affairs. He also tried to show her pay was based on a comparison with top public relation executives at similar sized corporations.

Testimony showed after six years on the job she was paid $585,818 in salary and bonuses plus stock options. Her predecessor, John Jacob was paid 1.25 million dollars during his last full year on the job.

Katz will be back on the stand Thursday morning. Another female executive who served with Katz on the firm`s strategic planning committee will be called to testify.

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