Cynthia Haddad was fired in 2004 after working more than 10 years for Wal-Mart, seven of them at a store in Pittsfield.
Wal-Mart claimed she was fired because she left the pharmacy unattended and allowed a technician to use her computer security code to issue prescriptions during her absence.
Haddad, however, claimed in a discrimination lawsuit that she was fired because she complained about being paid less than her male counterparts, including a bonus given to pharmacy managers. The company paid the bonus, then fired her two weeks later.
In 2007, a jury found that the company discriminated against Haddad, and awarded her $1 million in compensatory damages and another $1 million in punitive damages. A judge later revoked the $1 million award for punitive damages, finding there was an insufficient basis for the jury's decision.
But the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reinstated the punitive damages and upheld the total $2 million award, ruling that the jury had enough evidence to find that Wal-Mart's stated motive for Haddad's firing was a pretext and that Wal-Mart acted with a "discriminatory animus."
"There was evidence that Wal-Mart paid the plaintiff substantially less than less-experienced male pharmacists, refused to pay the plaintiff the pharmacy manager salary differential that it paid to male pharmacists, and terminated the plaintiff purportedly for a single policy violation but did not terminate male pharmacists for that or for more serious infractions involving violations of State and Federal law," Justice Judith Cowin wrote for the court in the unanimous, 7-0 ruling.
Richard Fradette, one of Haddad's trial attorneys, said the decision was gratifying.
"It's an endorsement of the professional female employee and the assurance that they will be paid equal to their male counterparts," said Fradette, who is also a pharmacist.
Michelle Bradford, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart, said the company is disappointed by the ruling.
"Wal-Mart has strong equal employment opportunity policies, and we foster female leadership," Bradford said.