Wyatt Employment Law Report


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Fate of the $185 Million Pregnancy Discrimination Verdict Against Autozone Revealed: Parties Jointly Move to Dismiss

By Leila G. O’Carra

pregnancy, workOn Monday, July 20, Autozone Stores, Inc. and former employee Rosario Juarez jointly moved to dismiss Juarez’s highly publicized pregnancy discrimination case. Juarez filed suit against Autozone in 2008, claiming that Autozone demoted her and then fired her because of her pregnancy. She also claimed that Autozone harassed her because she was pregnant, and retaliated against her when she complained about the discrimination.

In November 2014, a jury found in Juarez’s favor on all of these claims, and awarded her $879,719.52 in compensatory damages, and an astounding $185,000,000.00 in punitive damages.

Autozone promptly asked the United States District Court for the Southern District of California for a new trial, and to rule that punitive damages could not be awarded against Autozone under the facts presented at trial. Autozone also asked the court to declare a mistrial and sanction Juarez’s attorneys for alleged inappropriate contact with jurors.

According to Autozone’s court filings, Juarez’s trial team communicated with a juror before the trial was over. The juror had been dismissed after the liability phase of the trial, before the punitive damages phase, because Continue reading


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U.S. Supreme Court Sets Forth Test for Evaluating Pregnancy Discrimination Claims

By Michelle High

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(k), dictates that “women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same” as other employees who are “similar in their ability or inability to work.”  The Act has two sections.  The first section provides that employers can’t discriminate on the basis of pregnancy because it would be sex discrimination and the second section provides that “women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all employment-related purposes . . . as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability to work.”  The second section of the law has been the source of repeated questions for employers and employees alike.

pregnancyIn Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc., a newly released 6-3 opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court has provided a test detailing when the Pregnancy Discrimination Act requires an employer that provides work accommodations to non-pregnant employees to extend such accommodations to pregnant employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.

Peggy Young was a driver with UPS.  When she became pregnant, her obstetrician advised her not to lift more than 20 pounds.   Generally, UPS drivers were expected to carry packages of up to 70 pounds, but the company offered accommodations to those injured on the job; those with conditions recognized as Continue reading


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House Unanimously Passes the Kentucky Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, Bill Now Onto Senate

The House unanimously passed the Kentucky Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (HB 218), which would require employers subject to the Kentucky Civil Rights Act to provide reasonable accommodations for “pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions.” It would also amend the Civil Rights Act to make it unlawful for employers to “fail to accommodate an employee affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition [and would] require employers to provide notice to all employees regarding discrimination for pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions.” In addition, a “related medical condition” would be amended to include “lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child and has the same meaning as in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, 42 U.S.C. sec. 2000e(k).” The bill is now headed to the Senate.

pregnancy, workAccommodations for pregnant employees is a hot topic in employment news right now. This year, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide in Young v. UPS whether employers are required under the Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act to provide accommodations for pregnancy–related symptoms. Young had requested light duty due to Continue reading