An AutoZone worker was recently awarded $185 million by a San Diego jury. The jury found that the worker was demoted after becoming pregnant, and then fired after filing a lawsuit challenging the demotion. The award included $872,000 in compensatory damages and $185 million in punitive damages. AutoZone is expected to appeal.
Punitive damages are damages whose purpose is to punish past misconduct and to deter future misconduct.
The high amount of punitive damages awarded may be lowered by the judge, but the verdict demonstrates Californian’s increasing intolerance of discrimination in the workplace. California law prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, age, color, medical conditions and other protected status. The law also prohibits retaliation against workers opposing discrimination.
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