A San Diego, California jury recently awarded less than one million in compensatory damages and another $185 million in punitive damages to a woman who sued for pregnancy based discrimination. See Workplace Prof blog post. The suit was lodged against AutoZone. Rosario Juarez alleged that she was fired after being told that pregnant women could not get the job done while pregnant. She was a store manager. When she initially became pregnant, she was demoted and was urged to return to counter sales. After waiting the required one year, she asked to return to her old job. Instead, she was fired.
The trial in federal court lasted two weeks. During trial, a former district manager, testified that he was berated by a Vice-President for having so many female managers. “What are we running here, a boutique? Get rid of those women.” See Reuters news report.
The amount of punitive damages will be reduced. The cap on punitive and compensatory damages is $300,000. But, the jury clearly wanted to send a message. They succeeded. But, it is very rare for any former manager to testify, much less one with such damaging testimony. These sorts of jury results are quite rare.