This ought to happen more often.
A former top executive in a North Carolina-based health care system who claimed in a lawsuit that he lost his job because he is a white male was awarded $10 million by a federal jury on Tuesday.
I’ll skip past the media’s boilerplate spin to the meat of the case.
An attorney for Duvall, S. Luke Largess, sent Channel 9 the following:
“We showed the jury a strategic plan that Novant adopted to implement the D&I initiative in three phases. Goal 2 of Phase 2 listed explicitly that Novant would improve diversity at the senior leader level. There was also a timeline approved by the board showing the steps to be taken from 2016 to 2018 to get there. Most of them are quite appropriate, and David was on the system committee supporting the initiative.
“But in 2018, the timeline shows Novant using a diversity “lens” to make decisions. At the start of 2018, Duvall’s boss, the Chief Consumer Officer, had seven white male direct reports. By the end of 2018, he had two. That fit the strategic plan and the timeline. Today, he has no white male direct reports. That pattern was part of the evidence.
“Novant created two new positions to replace Duvall — one woman, a long-time employee was promoted from VP of PR and Communications under Duvall to SVP in that same role. That was announced the day of his termination.
“Novant also created an SVP for Marketing role. It took 10 months to replace Duvall, and the three finalists were all black females.
“Both women are qualified for the work … but neither was more qualified than Duvall, and there were no complaints about his performance. He was just fired out of the clear blue sky, and it fit hand-in-glove with the strategic plan and timeline.”
There is, as his lawyer notes, a certain irony here.
“The jury learned that Duvall was a strong advocate of diversity and inclusion at Novant; that was one irony in his termination,” his attorney, S. Luke Largess, said in a statement. “We are pleased that the jury agreed that Mr. Duvall’s race and gender were unlawful factors in his termination—that he was fired to make room for more diverse leaders at Novant Health.”
I’m not sure that his lawyer quite understands the irony.
Duvall was on the system committee. What did he was going to happen to him once the plan was implemented?
“At the start of 2018, Duvall’s boss, the Chief Consumer Officer, had seven white male direct reports. By the end of 2018, he had two. That fit the strategic plan and the timeline. Today, he has no white male direct reports.”
Did he think they didn’t really mean it? That he would be spared?
This kind of thing is going on all over the country. Diversity purges are not a new phenomenon but in the last few years they’ve hit a feverish pitch, and companies feel free and even obligated to fire white employees on account of their race. This lawsuit is a helpful warning that there can be accountability. Will the other fired white executives follow up on this by suing Novant?