Plaintiff Rosario Juarez sued her former employer, AutoZone Stores Inc., for demoting her and ultimately terminating her after she announced her pregnancy in 2005. According to Juarez, when she informed her district manager that she was expecting, the manager responding by saying, “Congratulations…I guess. I feel sorry for you.” Juarez alleged that the company subsequently doubled her assigned list of tasks, making her work day substantially more difficult. She alleged that her manager began criticizing her work performance and berating her, telling her, “You can’t handle it. You can’t perform under your situation.” Shortly thereafter, the company demoted her before later firing her.
According to the L.A. Times, the company argued at trial that Juarez was fired for misplacing $400 in cash, but a store loss prevention officer who led the investigation for AutoZone testified at trial that she never suspected Juarez of wrongdoing and thought the company was targeting her.
A federal jury in San Diego returned a verdict in Juarez’s favor, awarding her nearly $900,000 in compensatory damages and $185 million in punitive damages. According to various news sources, AutoZone says they plan to appeal. For more details, including video of an interview with Juarez, click here and here.
Bernstein & Friedland, P.C. is a boutique employment law firm in Los Angeles specializing in wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and unpaid wage and overtime matters. Please visit our website at www.laemploymentcounsel.com to learn more about us.