$160,000 Sexual Harassment Verdict And Attorney’s Fee Award Of $677,000 Affirmed

Fuentes v. AutoZone, Inc., 200 Cal. App. 4th 1221 (2011)

Marcela Fuentes worked as a part-time customer service representative (cashier) for AutoZone. Fuentes alleged that two managers (Melvin Garcia and Gonzalo Carrillo) had spread rumors that Fuentes had sexually transmitted herpes; that she and a coworker were engaged in a sexual relationship; and that she could make more money working as a stripper. On one occasion, Garcia physically moved Fuentes to turn her around and display her buttocks to customers, while laughing and clapping and commenting that Garcia and Fuentes would be rich if they owned the store because all that Fuentes had to do was “just turn around and show them her butt.” Fuentes asked for and received a transfer to another store before quitting two years later for unrelated reasons. Garcia and Carrillo were terminated. At trial, the jury awarded Fuentes $160,000, and the trial court awarded her $677,000 in attorney’s fees. The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment, finding substantial evidence to support the jury’s verdict in favor of Fuentes.