AutoZone Settles $185 Million Lawsuit After Firing Woman Over Pregnancy


AutoZone, an auto parts retailer (GET IN THE ZONE! AUTOZONE!), has recently dropped its challenge to a verdict in the case of a former employee who claims she was demoted, then fired, for being pregnant. She sued for $185 million.

According to ThinkProgress, Rosario Juarez claims she was urged to step down from her role as store manager after announcing she was pregnant. After her baby was born, she was demoted and her paycheck decreased. And if the Ellen Pao trial unveiled the “subtle” sexism of Silicon Valley, the Rosario Juarez trial revealed that the “wave-my-dick-in-your-face” brand of workplace misogyny is alive and well:

Juarez’s complaint also claimed that the company has a “glass ceiling” that keeps women from getting promoted. Just 10 of the 98 stores in the San Diego area where she worked had female managers. And at trial, a former district manager testified that a vice president reprimanded him for having so many women in management positions, telling him, “What are we running here, a boutique? Get rid of those women.” Another former district manager testified that at a meeting, executives rejoiced that a previous settlement requiring it to promote women and track it had expired, offering a district manager a promotion if he fired all the women in his stores.

The LA Times reports that AutoZone’s lawyers tried to counter Juarez’s claims by saying she was ultimately fired in 2008 for misplacing $400 in cash. However, “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.”

This win was incredible. But as ThinkProgress points out, it’s rare: “About 60 percent of the pregnancy discrimination charges filed with the EEOC end up with a finding of no reasonable cause, and nearly two-thirds of recent sex discrimination cases end up with the same result.”

Note: This piece’s headline has been changed to reflect the fact that it’s not clear how much AutoZone is paying in the settlement, though the suit was for $185 million.

Contact the author at [email protected].

Image via AutoZone.

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