It took two hours for nine women and three men to find in favor of a plaintiff alleging age and sex discrimination by the Missouri Department of Transportation.
The jury awarded Deanna McClurg $850,000 in compensatory and punitive damages. They had listened to five days of testimony in the case.
Ms. McClurg filed a lawsuit in July 2013 alleging the discrimination. She worked for 29 years with the Missouri Department of Transportation, including her last 17 years as a supervisor running a highway crew and facility in Faucett, Mo.
Ms. McClurg, a qualified supervisor, sought a promotion at a time when the department was shrinking because of a reduced budget. She maintains five other younger male applicants, each with a disciplinary or safety violation, were chosen when she was the most qualified applicant.
The plaintiff asked jurors to award up to $500,000 in compensatory damages plus punitive damages.
This was an economic crisis and MoDOT had to cut 45 supervisor positions to 20, said Ms. Denise Drake, an attorney representing the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission. The department allowed people to compete in an effort to find the best qualified for the remaining jobs, she said. Longer service doesn’t mean better, Ms. Drake told jurors. And the plaintiff declined her chance to apply for other positions, the attorney said.
In closing, Ms. Drake told jurors there was no evidence of any conspiracy to commit age or sex discrimination.
Ms. McClurg had consistently been recognized for the quality of her work, said Rik Siro, the plaintiff’s lead attorney. She was only looking for fair treatment, Mr. Siro said.