Employment Law Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law and HR

Dec 19, 2014

CALIFORNIA: Jury awards $185M for sex and pregnancy discrimination

 

A record-setting verdict for $185 million in punitive damages and $872,000 in compensatory damages has been awarded by a jury after finding that the employer had allowed sex discrimination to permeate the company.

A record-setting verdict for $185 million in punitive damages and $872,000 in compensatory damages has been awarded by a jury after finding that the employer had allowed sex discrimination to permeate the company. The jury heard the case in federal court and agreed that the female employee was treated less favorably than her male colleagues, and the poor treatment escalated after she became pregnant. There are a couple of reasons that the punitive damages are so high. One, the attorney argued that the discrimination went all the way into the upper management levels and was committed with malice, oppression or fraud. And two, the evidence showed that the company netted in excess of $20 million each week. The verdict may be reduced on appeal, but it will be an expensive lesson regardless (AutoZone v. Juarez, SD Cal jury verdict, Nov. 2014).

Tips: Discrimination claims can be costly, so make sure you take them seriously and thoroughly investigate any allegations that arise. Contact your Vigilant employment attorney for assistance, or refer to our Legal Guides, “Handling Workplace Protests and Complaints” and “Harassment in the Workplace: Avoiding Liability”, for further information.

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