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Judge: White man who sued for reverse discrimination should get $3.9 million, not $10 million, from Novant Health

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A federal judge in Charlotte ordered Thursday that a former Novant Health executive, who claimed in a lawsuit that he was fired from his job because he is a white male, should receive $3.89 million from the health-care system.

A federal jury awarded David Duvall, 57, a Michigan resident, $10 million in October 2021 after the panel determined that Duvall proved that his race and gender were motivating factors in Novant Health’s decision to terminate him, according to jury’s verdict form.

The jury also indicated that Novant Health failed to prove that it would have dismissed Duvall regardless of his race. Novant Health’s headquarters are in Winston-Salem.

In his 2019 lawsuit, Duvall said that he lost his job as senior vice president of marketing and communication in July 2018 at Novant Health because of the company’s efforts to diversify many of its top leadership positions.

In his ruling, U.S. Magistrate Judge David Cayer reduced the jury’s award of $10 million to $300,000 and ordered that Duvall be awarded back pay of $2.34 million with 8% interest added to that amount, court records show.

“The federal law governing discrimination cases caps punitive damages at $300,000,” S. Luke Largess of Charlotte, Duvall’s attorney, said Friday. “We were disappointed but knew there was a chance that would happen.”

Cayer also ordered that Duvall be awarded nearly $1.08 million in front pay damages, the records show. Plaintiffs are entitled to recover front pay, which is lost salary and benefits because an employee was unlawfully fired under the federal Civil Rights Act.

Novant Health will appeal Cayer’s order, said Dallas Britt, a spokesman for Novant Health.

“The reduction of the punitive award by $9.7 million is a significant step in the right direction,” Britt said. “Novant Health stands by its diversity and inclusion program.

“As David Duvall conceded under oath at (the) trial, our DEI program was properly implemented during the time of his employment,” Britt said. “As such, we believe that an appeal is warranted, and that our interests will be further vindicated as a result.”

In court papers, Novant Health said that Duvall was fired because he had poor leadership skills, and that Duvall admitted in a deposition that he didn’t think that he was being discriminated against during his employment with Novant Health.

In his lawsuit, Duvall said he was fired four years ago without warning or explanation shortly before his fifth anniversary with the company. Duvall was replaced by two women, one Black and one white, according to the lawsuit.

Duvall, who worked in Charlotte, accused Novant Health of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits race and gender discrimination in the workplace.

Novant Health employs more than 35,000 workers and has more than 2,300 doctors at nearly 800 locations in three states, according to its website. The company serves more than 6 million patients annually.




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