North Carolina-based Novant Health got a rude awakening last week when a former executive whom they let go won the lawsuit he filed against them, which alleged a violation of the Civil Rights Act via a wrongful termination based on a “diversity” push within the company.
According to local news reports, David Duvall, who held an executive position with Novant for nearly five years before he was let go in July 2018, claimed in his case against Novant that he was pushed out of the company after they accelerated their efforts at diversifying their workforce.
Duvall’s lawyers told the court that “white male leaders were dismissed from employment without warning and replaced by women and/or minorities,” including him, per WBTV News. On top of that, he said his termination happened just days before his five-year anniversary, which allowed Novant to avoid “a claim for 18 months’ severance promised him when he was hired.”
The verdict forms from the jury show that jurors checked “yes” and “no” respectively on the questions of whether Duvall proved his race/sex motivated Novant’s decision and if Novant proved they’d have made the same decision regardless of his race/sex.
The jury awarded him $10 million in damages, and Duvall’s lawyer said more money could be coming depending on what a judge decides in terms of whether or not any back pay is owed.
Novant said in a statement that they were “extremely disappointed” in the jury’s decision and would “pursue all legal options, including appeal, over the next several weeks and months.” During the case, they claimed in their defense that Duvall’s termination allegedly had to do with poor work performance.
Something else interesting about his case is that Duvall’s lawyer said Duvall himself was a proponent of diversity in the workplace, but obviously not if it meant you had to fire someone or pass over someone more qualified in order to do it.
I know workplace/college-campus “diversity” pushes have been done and put in place over the years in an effort to elevate people in so-called “minority” groups — women (like me), black people, Hispanic people, etc. — who historically have faced discrimination in our society.
But while there’s no doubt that discrimination continues to take place, such situations should not be used as grounds to put in place what effectively is another form of discrimination — the legal kind that says it’s okay to promote the “minority” over the white guy in order to be able to say you have a certain percentage of minorities in leadership roles or who passed this important test in college or whatever.
Putting a person’s physical characteristics ahead of their actual qualifications is not just wrong, but it’s also extremely insulting to the person who, if they knew that’s what the employer/educator was doing, they’d be very upset. Most people want to advance in life based on merit and performance, not because of their female parts and/or the color of their skin.
In addition to all that, diversity pushes in these settings lead to bad blood with some people being left to feel they were passed over for reasons that had nothing to do with whether or not they were qualified for the job.
To say Duvall’s win is a big victory for merit/performance-based employment is an understatement. Assuming it stands up to Novant’s legal challenges, the case has the potential to set precedent for similar rulings in related cases that are winding themselves through the court system.
Let’s hope so.
Media analyst Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a regular contributor to RedState and Legal Insurrection.