Employee wins $185 million for an employment discrimination claim

A female employee who worked for AutoZone is finally getting some good news after the problems that she had with the company. Her verdict of $185 million in punitive damages and $872,000 in compensatory damages for her employment discrimination claim is the largest employment law verdict for a single person in United States history. AutoZone has many stores across the country with a large portion of them -- nearly 400 -- in California.

According to her complaint, it was corporate culture that female employees were not to be promoted. A vice president of operations allegedly visited a store that had a female manager, as well as multiple other female employees, and made a comment that the women were to be removed. A district store manager had testified during the woman's case, admitting that he was offered a promotion if he could terminate all of the female employees from the stores within his jurisdiction.

The plaintiff started working for AutoZone in customer service, but she was promoted to a sales manager a year later. She claims that she had made effort to be promoted to store manager, but she was held back. Eventually, she did get promoted, but only after human resources intervened. After she announced her pregnancy, she claims that her supervisor continued to tell her that she should step down because she would be unable to handle her job responsibilities after she had her baby. After she gave birth, she was subjected to a hostile work environment and later demoted back down to a sales manager and ultimately fired.

AutoZone contends that the reason for the woman being demoted was due to poor performance reviews and that she was fired because she was missing $400 from her register. The woman filed her complaint, and the jury found the company guilty of employment discrimination and retaliation. California employees who feel that they are being treated unfairly due to any protected characteristic may first try to discuss the situation with their supervisors. If the issue remains unresolved, the worker may choose to pursue legal action. Based upon evidence of the discrimination, the employee may be awarded monetary compensation as well as possibly being returned to work, if applicable.

Source: utsandiego.com, "Jury orders AutoZone to pay $185 million for gender discrimination", Kristina Davis, Nov. 18, 2014

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