How Many Lawsuits Does It Take….

April 6th, 2011 by
While “How many lawsuits does it take” does sounds like the beginning of an HR joke, AutoZone isn’t laughing.  The company has faced multiple employment lawsuits over the past several years and lost all of them, resulting in some very costly verdicts.  Most recently, on March 28th 2011,  the Ninth Circuit upheld a verdict for the EEOC  against AutoZone with the damages at $65,000.  The suit alleged that an AutoZone store in Arizona had created a sexually hostile workplace.   In September 2010 the EEOC filed a lawsuit in Massachuset U.S. District Court Massachusetts, alleging that AutoZone created a hostile work based on religious discrimination.  The Seventh Circuit upheld a verdict against AutoZone for wrongful termination in violation of the ADA in Wisconsin in December 2010.   The company is also facing a class action lawsuit for wage and hour violations in Oregon, California and Arizona. 
One thing the numerous lawsuit highlight is how hard it is to ensure compliance across a wide spread organization even with the best of intentions.   According to the AutoZone website, AutoZone is the ” nation’s leading retailer and a leading distributor of automotive replacement parts and accessories with more than 4,600 stores in the US, Puerto Rico, and Mexico.”  No doubt AutoZone has strict written policies against harrassment, hostile work enviroments and discrimination.  Certainly they provide training to managers and employees on what is appropriate behavior.  The founder of AutoZone has a long standing personal committment to equal rights and is patron of the of the National Civil Rights Museum, where the current CEO is serves on the board as Treasurer.  Yet a bad or misinformed manager at just one of those 4,600 locations can result in a $65,00 verdict.   
Join the conversation:  Is it easier to ensure compliance at a large corporate with a high level of HR staff and resources or at a smaller company?

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4 Responses to “How Many Lawsuits Does It Take….”

  1. cannot disclose says:

    I have been with AZ for over 9 yrs. I went back to my church after over 20 yrs. and requested my sabbath off. Store was not co-operative, HR granted my request for sabbath off. I have had a lot of issues since then. I am full time and HR took one day every two weeks off of me because I was supposed to work that day. I know this is not legal but I need the job right now. I like my work but it has become unbearable sometimes. There are other employees who make comments to my lifestyle in comparasion to my religion which I don’t believe is any of their business.

  2. Motyka Johnson says:

    KPA is not able to comment on specific employee issues. We do recommend that any employee who believes they are being treated unfairly or being harassed formally discuss their concerns with HR. You may find these resources helpful to facilitate a discussion:

    Three Steps to Prevent Sexual Harassment at Your Dealership
    KPA Offers New Anti-Harassment Training Designed for Dealerships

  3. rich walters says:

    I was a parts sales manager wrongfully terminated because I refused my manager’s homosexual advances. The company is supposed to have a no tolerance policy but when I went to corporate they would not return my call.

  4. Earl Hamilton says:

    I was terminated back in May for “rumor spreading” after I, being the parts sales manager”, turned in the store manager for hiring and having an affair with another employee. Then the company had the gall to tell prospecting employees that I had been terminated for sexual harassment and jokes. After the third appeal for my unemployment I am now seeking a lawsuit. Even the state found their claims unfounding stating that the company had not followed up on the “affairs” and that the store manager had done “it” before. That I was awarded my claims for unemployment. Autozone has tried to ruin my reputation. The courts state that I was terminated for retaliation for turning in the store manager. The Store Manager had created a hostile work environment by hiring and dating an employee while also being married. Now Autozone is rushing to correct the problem within the store, but not aknowledging any wrong doing.

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