AutoZone gets absolutely walloped[$186 Million] for pregnancy discrimination!!
This story out of California didn’t get much play in the press, for whatever reason.
Ms. Rosario Juarez was hired by AutoZone in 2000 as a Customer Service Representative at a store just south of San Diego, California. In April of 2001 she was promoted to Parts Sale Manager. In October, 2004, she was promoted to Store Manager. In September of 2005, Juarez became pregnant with the first of two children she would eventually have.
Shortly after finding out about her pregnancy, the District Manager told her she could not handle the demands of her new position and suggested she accept her former position in Parts. After he child was born, Juarez was demoted and her pay was cut.
Juarez waited a year[as apparently required by AutoZone internal rules]before she tried to regain her Store Manager position. The District Manager refused to promote her. Juarez was terminated in 2008. Juarez then filed suit claimed she was discriminated against, and ultimately fired because of her pregnancy.
At trial, a former District Manager testified that an AutoZone Vice President had berated him for having so many women in management positions. The Vice President was quoted as saying: “What are we running here, a boutique? Get rid of those women.” Ouch. That kind of testimony tends to hurt.
The case went to verdict in November and the jury concluded that Juarez had indeed been discriminated against. The verdict? $872,720 in compensatory damages. But wait – there’s more. A Whole lot more. The jury also awarded $185 MILLION dollars in punitive damages. Sean Simpson, one of Juarez’ attorneys noted that “This is the third or fourth time they’ve been hit with punitive damages for doing the same thing. Let’s hope they get the message.”
An AutoZone spokesman indicated an appeal was planned. Wonder if their appeal team has any women on it?