Jury Orders Autozone to Pay $185 Million for Gender and Pregnancy Discrimination
Chris Welsh, Esq.
A federal jury in San Diego says AutoZone Stores Inc. should pay $185 million in punitive damages for “unlawfully demoting and firing a female employee who complained about gender and pregnancy discrimination” (LA Times).
Autozone sells car and truck parts in three countries, with annual sales this year rounding $9.5 billion. Plaintiff Rosario Suarez worked at one of Autozones 539 stores in California. She claims that she was demoted from a management position shortly after telling her district manager that she had become pregnant. Allegedly, her manager’s reply to her announcement was “I feel sorry for
you”– a remark followed by a series of work performance complaints and demotion.
Autozone argued at trial that Juarez misplaced $400 in cash, but a store loss prevention officer that investigated for Autozone testified that she did not suspect Juarez of any wrongdoing. Instead, she believes Autozone was targeting Juarez.
Autozone plans to appeal, claiming the verdict “could not be based on the evidence or logic.”
On the other side, Juarez’s attorney, Lawrance Bohm is confident with the decision and its effect. “Hopefully, this verdict sends a loud and clear message to AutoZone that the company is not above the law and must treat working mothers with dignity and respect,” he said (LA Times).
Discrimination is a deep-rooted issue that remains to be a problem all over–from small businesses to big corporations, law enforcement, schools, and the healthcare system. If you or a loved one has been discriminated against at work or school, reach out to an attorney to discuss your situation and your rights. You may be able to explore legal options.