Drug wholesaler McKesson Corp. said Wednesday that a California jury had found that the company must pay $15 million in punitive damages to an employee who claimed she was fired after she developed a mental illness.
The verdict from the jury in Woodland, Calif., follows an award of $3.5 million in compensatory damages last month to Charlene Roby for wrongful termination, harassment and disability discrimination, McKesson said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
The jury specified that an unidentified McKesson employee must pay Roby $500,000. That employee is Roby's former supervisor, said McKesson spokesman Larry Kurtz.
Roby was fired from her receptionist job after working for 25 years at San Francisco-based McKesson's distribution center in West Sacramento, the documents said.
The company will appeal the verdict, Kurtz said.
"We followed the proper procedures. We acted with great sensitivity and terminated the employee appropriately," he said in an interview, adding that the company would pursue the appeal in an attempt to get the award reduced or invalidated.
Roby developed a mental illness and anxiety attacks that required her to take sick time, according to her lawsuit.
Roby's supervisor and other McKesson managers harassed Roby for taking too much sick time, and she was fired in April 2000, the complaint said.
Philip Drysdale, an attorney in Dublin, Calif., who represented Roby in the case, declined to comment.
McKesson's shares fell 16 cents to $33.76 on the New York Stock Exchange. The company's shares have risen 5% this year.
McKesson ranks behind AmerisourceBergen Corp. and Cardinal Health Inc. in drug distribution sales.