In a massive award, AutoZone Stores Inc. has been ordered to pay $185 million in punitive damages for unlawfully demoting and firing an employee who complained about pregnancy discrimination.
According to the Los Angeles Times, in her lawsuit, Rosario Juarez was demoted from a management position at a San Diego County store in 2006 after she became pregnant. Following the demotion, Juarez filed a lawsuit based on discrimination claims; AutoZone eventually fired her after her case was filed.
In addition to the $185 million punitive award, a jury awarded Juarez $872,000 in compensatory damages. AutoZone is expected to appeal the decisions. In her lawsuit, Juarez claimed that she was treated differently at work when she told a district manager that she was pregnant.
After this, she claimed the company began complaining about her performance at work. The company said that she was fired for misplacing $400 at work, a claim that a loss prevention officer who worked at the store disputed.
Juarez also claimed that she was harassed after she gave birth to her son. Juarez’s lawsuit said that district managers were directed to stop promoting women.
My Employer Fired Me Because I Was Pregnant. Can I Sue?
Remember, pregnancy discrimination is illegal under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). The PDA mandates that women who become pregnant be treated the same way as other employees for all employment-related purposes, including promotion opportunities.
The PDA modified Title VII, allowing women who are subjected to discrimination because of their pregnancy to file complaints and potentially seek damages.
If you face discrimination at work because of your pregnancy, you need to write down and record the events that have occurred, keep your composure and schedule an appointment with a human resources representative at your company.
If the discrimination continues, please contact our office for a free consultation. We can investigate your case and determine if you could potentially seek damages.
Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob– Los Angeles employment attorneys
Did You Know? Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an employer may be required to provide reasonable accommodations for a pregnant employee.