Rosario Juarez is a former employee of AutoZone. She began her employment in 2000 as a customer service representative and within a year was promoted to parts sales manager. With that position, her upward trajectory was allegedly halted due to a “glass ceiling” that prevented women from promotion. It was Ms. Juarez’ contention that district managers were instructed to get rid of women in management positions. Ultimately however, Ms. Juarez was promoted and she pointed to Human Resources complaints as the reason.
Ms. Juarez became pregnant in 2005. According to Ms. Juarez, her boss repeatedly suggested that she step down because once she had a child, she would no longer be able to handle her job duties. She refused. However, when she returned following giving birth to her son, she was demoted back to parts sales manager. AutoZone claimed that the demotion was due to poor work performance. Ms. Juarez claimed that she was then asked to work much longer hours, ordered to redo work without reason while being humiliated and yelled at in front of other employees.
When her complaints went unheeded, Ms. Juarez filed a lawsuit. Within a month of giving her deposition, Ms. Juarez was fired. The company’s basis for the termination was $400 that went missing from the register. The loss prevention officer who handled the investigation claimed that Ms. Juarez was never suspected of stealing the money and that the company was targeting her. That officer also has a gender suit pending against AutoZone. The jury awarded Ms. Juarez $872,000 in compensatory damages and $185 million in punitive damages. AutoZone issued a statement that it plans to appeal.