On Nov. 18, a federal judge upheld a jury's $185 million punitive award to a former AutoZone store manager for pregnancy bias, discrimination and retaliation she experienced at one of the retailer's San Diego locations. The judge rejected AutoZone Stores Inc.'s assertion that the punitive award could not stand because the plaintiff did not link a specific AutoZone director, officer or managing agent to her discrimination claims, ruling that the retailer's legal department qualifies as an agent under California law.
If an employer treats employees or job applicants differently due to their country of birth, that is considered national origin discrimination that is prohibited under federal law. Employers who discriminate based on an individual's accent or because an individual seems to be from a particular ethnic background may also be breaking the law. This also prohibits employers from making employment decisions based on the national origin of someone whom that person may know or be affiliated with.
In California, a proposed law aims to stop harassment and bullying behaviors in the workplace. It seeks to prevent managers from berating their subordinates and creating hostile work environments. Unlike other legislation that protects certain subsections of the population, such as minorities and women, this legislation aims to provide a greater level of protection to all employees.
Under California law, harassment in the workplace is considered a type of discrimination. When an employer engages in harassment that is based on sex, race, color, religion, age or disability, they may be found to be in violation of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act.