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Federal jury awards $10M to former Novant Health employee in discrimination case

The plaintiff claimed that he and other “white male leaders were dismissed from employment without warning and replaced by women and/or minorities,” court documents state.
Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 11:48 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 27, 2021 at 11:57 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – A federal jury awarded a former Novant Health executive $10 million in damages after he claimed in a lawsuit that he was fired because he’s a white man.

Attorneys for David Duvall filed the lawsuit in November 2019.

According to court documents, Duvall was dismissed from the North Carolina-based health system, where he served as senior vice president of marketing and communications, on July 30, 2018.

The plaintiff claimed that he and other “white male leaders were dismissed from employment without warning and replaced by women and/or minorities,” court documents state.

Duvall said he was terminated six days before his fifth work anniversary, avoiding a claim for 18 months’ severance promised him when he was hired.

He claimed in the suit that his firing stemmed from a 2015 commitment Novant Health signed onto, along with other health systems nationwide, to address health care inequities.

“That goal spurred a new commitment to a moribund diversity and inclusion (”D&I”) effort – an initiative at Novant Health that by 2018 had turned into avowed ‘strategic imperative’ to use racial and gender targets to reshape Novant Health’s workforce and leadership to reflect the community it served,” the plaintiff’s revised trial brief stated.

The federal jury in Charlotte came back with its verdict on Tuesday.

On the verdict form, the panel checked “yes” to the question “Has Plaintiff David Duvall proven that his race (Caucasian) and/or his sex (male) was a motivating factor in Novant Health’s decision to terminate him?”

For the second question, which asked “Has Novant Health proven that it would have made the same decision to terminate David Duvall regardless of his race (Caucasian) and/or his sex (male)?” the jury checked “No,” according to the verdict form.

In response to the final question asking the amount of punitive damages that should be awarded against Novant Health,” the jury awarded $10 million.

A Novant Health spokesperson sent the following statement to WBTV:

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