AutoZone Must Pay A Woman $186 Million For Firing Her After She Got Pregnant
A federal jury in California didn’t look favorably on AutoZone for demoting and firing a pregnant women. So much so, they awarded the San Diego-area woman nearly $186 million. She sued AutoZone when they told her she couldn’t do the job of managing a store because she was pregnant.
It is a trend for AutoZone, said the suit. “This is the third or fourth time they’ve been hit with punitive damages for doing the same thing,” said attorney Sean Simpson, who is part of the legal team representing plaintiff Rosario Juarez, 43. “Let’s hope they get the message.”
A six-person jury made the enormous award after a two-week trial. The judgment includes $872,720 in compensatory damages and another $185 million in punitive damages.
According AutoZone company spokesman Ray Pohlman, the company will appeal.
In 2000, Juarez was hired by AutoZone as a customer service representative at a store south of San Diego. By April 2001, she was promoted to parts sales manager and then in October 2004 to store manager. September 2005, Juarez became pregnant with the first of her two children. It was then that the district manager told her that, due to her pregnancy, she would be unable to handle the demands of the job and urged her to return to parts sales throughout her pregnancy. After her son was born, Juarez was demoted and her pay was cut.
“After she waited the required year from the demotion to seek her former job, the district manager refused to promote her, and she was terminated in 2008, the complaint said. By then, she had filed claims with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the complaint added,” reports Business Insider.
Even more damning evidence: A former district manager testified during the trial that an AutoZone vice president got angry with him for having so many women in management positions, telling him, “What are we running here, a boutique? Get rid of those women.”
In its ruling the jury stated that the harassment against Juarez was “severe and pervasive,” and found unanimously that she was discriminated against and later fired because of her pregnancy.