Jury Awards $186 Million in California Labor Lawsuit


San Diego, CA A jury awarded the plaintiff in a California labor lawsuit alleging employment discrimination $186 million last month. Although the California labor law award seems like a lot, experts believe the award will be reduced. Meanwhile, a lawsuit filed by the Los Angeles City Attorney alleges companies involved on a construction project violated wage and overtime laws, including failure to pay the California prevailing wage.

The $186 million award was given by a jury to a former female employee of AutoZone. The employee alleged she was discriminated against because of her gender, demoted after her employers discovered she was pregnant, and later fired. According to The Wall Street Journal (11/19/14), Rosario Juarez was awarded more than $800,000 in compensatory damages, and $185 million for punitive damages.

AutoZone said it would fight the award. Juarez alleged she was demoted in 2006 and filed a lawsuit for sexual discrimination. She was later fired in 2008. AutoZone argued Juarez was fired after $400 in cash went missing from a register. A jury disagreed with AutoZone and found the firing an act of retaliation for Juarez’s complaints about sexual discrimination.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced a lawsuit against Makone Development and five subcontractors, alleging violations of wage and overtime laws including prevailing wage rules. According to a press release from the city attorney, the violations were related to construction of the South Los Angeles Animal Care Center facility. Among the allegations are that one subcontractor, Pak’s Cabinet, was required to pay a prevailing wage rate of $49 per hour, but paid workers as low as $8 an hour. The lawsuit also alleges that KCC General Construction was required to pay the prevailing wage of $45 an hour but paid some employees a lump some that equaled $5 an hour.

“The impact on workers was significant; not only were they and their families severely damaged financially, but many were subject to overt harassment and intimidation as part of the Defendants’ efforts to conceal their illegal schemes,” the lawsuit states.

The city attorney alleges that hundreds of thousands of dollars in proper wages and overtime was not paid to employees. The lawsuit seeks restitution to the employees and civil penalties of up to $2,500 per violation.

The AutoZone lawsuit is Juarez v. AutoZone Stores, Inc., case number 08 CV 0417, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

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