St. Louis trial over compensation of Anheuser-Busch executive highlights gender bias in pay

The Associated Press

In this July 13, 2008 photo cars move near the Anheuser-Busch St. Louis brewery. August Busch III was CEO of Anheuser-Busch Companies for nearly three decades before his 2002 retirement, remaining as board chairman until 2006. The St. Louis brewer is being sued for gender discrimination by Francine Katz, who was the company’s highest ranking female executive before her 2008 resignation. Katz says she was grossly underpaid compared to her male predecessor and other top male executives at the company. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, David Carson)

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The elder Busch, 76, succeeded his father as CEO in 1975 at 38 in a coup initially resisted by August "Gussie" Busch Jr. August Busch III remained in charge for nearly three decades before his 2002 retirement and stayed on as chairman of its board of directors through 2006. Under his watch, the family business founded by German immigrants in 1876 became the country's largest brewer.

Colleagues and underlings said Busch ruled with a hair-trigger temper. Katz testified that Jacob told her Busch avoided discussing a contentious environmental issue with her because he was afraid Katz would cry.

August Busch IV, 49, was better known for his legal missteps and love of nightlife before his ascendancy to the boardroom. As a sophomore at the University of Arizona, Busch caused a 1983 car accident that led to the death of his 22-year-old passenger, waitress Michele Frederick. A seven-month police investigation of a possible involuntary manslaughter concluded without charges being filed.

In 2010, the younger Busch re-entered the spotlight when his 27-year-old girlfriend died of an accidental drug overdose at his mansion. He later settled a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by Adrienne Martin's family for $1.75 million.

Katz testified that Busch and another company executive forced her to fly on a separate corporate plane when the group traveled to Ohio for meetings with government officials. On other occasions, she was excluded from corporate golf tournaments and other functions, she said.

"I felt invisible," Katz said.

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