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.
Without question, California employers have the right and responsibility to perform background checks on potential employees. Employers can check a variety of sources for information, including readily accessible public records. However, employers should not use any resource in an attempt to breach a person's medical privacy in order to make hiring decisions.