Bayer HealthCare's whistle-blowing sales rep finally got a job offer at his old company. Thing is, that offer was 500 miles away from home--and a U.S. judge was none too impressed with the gambit.
Mike Townsend, who won a wrongful termination case against the company in 2012, fought off an appeal late last year, and he's been fighting ever since to get the court's judgment carried out. One part of that judgment: Getting his old job back, or at least a position with similar duties and seniority. The other? Back pay.
So far, Bayer has grudgingly offered Townsend a position in Knoxville, TN, a long way from Townsend's home in Little Rock, AR--528 miles, an 8-hour drive, or one Big River and three major cities away, to be exact. And no back pay.
U.S. District Judge James Moody, Jr., called upon again to weigh each side's claims, chided Bayer for claiming that a job in Knoxville could qualify. "Not a good faith effort" to comply with the court's order, Moody said.
Although Bayer isn't required to reinstate Townsend "to the exact same position he had prior to the discrimination" it must reinstate him "to a comparable position" as that he would have gained, had he not suffered from that discrimination, Moody notes. "The Court does not find a 'comparable position' to include one requiring relocation from Little Rock, Arkansas to Knoxville, Tennessee," the judge writes in his order. Both Knoxville and Little Rock would likely agree, though for different reasons.
As for Bayer's argument that it shouldn't owe Townsend back pay? Moody's not having that, either. Not only did the judge order Bayer to hand over back pay at the rate the jury decided, from the date of the court's reinstatement order--which, at the time of the appeal court's ruling amounted to $647,000, but has obviously grown since then as pay periods went by. Moody also said that the money has to keep coming until the company puts Townsend back to work. In a truly comparable job.
- see the court's order (PDF)