Court Affirms Jury Verdict against AutoZone in EEOC Case

March 18, 2011 ( - A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a $65,000 jury verdict against AutoZone, Inc. in an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sexual harassment case.

The EEOC had sued AutoZone for creating a sexually hostile work environment for Stacy Wing, an employee at an AutoZone store in Mesa, Arizona. Wing reported the sexual harassment to AutoZone management, but AutoZone failed to take immediate and appropriate action to stop it.  

The court stated that AutoZone’s inability to produce any documentation corroborating that it had even conducted an investigation – documents AutoZone’s own policies required that it create and maintain – and the loss of a video that captured at least one incident of the harassment cast doubt as to AutoZone’s actions.

According to an EEOC press release, the appellate court held that the jury could reasonably have determined that AutoZone management failed to exercise reasonable care to correct promptly the store manager’s obscene and harassing behavior once Wing brought it to their attention, and that a reasonable juror could question the efficacy and good faith of AutoZone’s investigation. The court noted evidence was introduced that AutoZone’s investigator, a regional human resources manager, did not interview certain employees, did not report the investigation to AutoZone per company policy, and did not advise Wing of the outcome of the investigation.    


On June 10, 2009, a federal jury in Phoenix returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the EEOC, and awarded Wing $65,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, the announcement said. AutoZone appealed the trial court’s denial of AutoZone’s motion that sought to overturn the jury’s verdict.