North Carolina woman alleges sexual harassment by a customer and retaliation for complaining against her former employer, AutoZone

A North Carolina woman alleges in Charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that AutoZone managers ignored her requests for help to stop a customer from repeatedly sexually harassing her—and then retaliated against her when she refused to keep serving her harasser.

As explained in her EEOC Charges of Discrimination, Jade Mack worked for AutoZone store 3909 in Concord, North Carolina. Her immediate supervisor was Store Manager Charlie Seabright, and her District Manager was Kevin Murphy. As stated in her EEOC Charges, on December 7, 2021, Ms. Mack alleges that regular AutoZone commercial customer Mr. W. J. [name withheld] walked toward her, forcing her to walk backwards to escape him, while saying “tell your man you’re in love with someone else.” Finding a wall behind her, Ms. Mack tried to sidestep W.J., and said “I don’t think he would like that very much.” The customer insisted, “he will get over it,” and repeated himself. Ms. Mack, increasingly panicked, told W.J. “I don’t think he would like that very much and I don’t like it either.” W.J. was close and directly in front of her. She was finally able to sidestep and escape him. Ms. Mack immediately texted Store Manager Seabright with a complaint and a full description of what had happened:

Mack: So W[.J.]just back me into a corner in the office saying tel [sic] your man your in love with someone else I kept trying to side step him & said I don’t think he would like that he said he will get over it but he was persistent and said it again so I said I don’t like it either fucking creepy I don’t ever want to be alone with him again where I have no exit to get out around him I don’t get creeped out or scared by much but that had me scared as shit & my adrenaline going now I feel like I’m gonna puke[.]

Unsurprisingly, when Seabright did nothing to stop the harassment, it continued: on or around December 17, 2022, while Ms. Mack was on the phone performing her work, W.J. allegedly snuck up behind her and wrapped his hands around her waist. Ms. Mack, shocked and scared, jerked away from him while trying to remain professional on the phone. When she was off the phone, Ms. Mack again texted Seabright to complain about the harassment and to identify a witness to his conduct:

Mack:              Dude [WJ just touched me and B[]’s saw it literally while I was on the phone I was billing out a commercial account

Seabright:        Touched you how. On the shoulder, on the butt, on the hand?

Mack:              Around my waste [sic]

The second complaint still produced no results—Seabright simply let the harassment continue. On February 28, 2022, while Seabright was present nearby, W.J. allegedly walked toward Ms. Mack with his arms held open in a gesture indicating he was going to hug her, saying “I am so in love with you.” Ms. Mack responded “well, you’re shit out of luck aren’t you.” W.J. looked at her, and said in an agitated tone: “I don’t like a disrespectful girl.” Ms. Mack repeated herself. W.J., becoming more irate, said “I don’t think you heard me, I don’t like a disrespectful girl.” Rather than intervene in the sexual harassment occurring directly in front of him, Store Manager Seabright joined in on it—humorously telling the customer, “then she isn’t the right one for you man cause she will tell you like it is.”

Ms. Mack fled to the break area and immediately complained to District Manager Murphy, who was present in the store on that day. Murphy spoke with Seabright, while Ms. Mack saw her harasser sitting outside the store in his truck, revving his engine repeatedly and staring at them through the window for up to ten minutes before he finally departed. Upset and scared, Ms. Mack complained about the harassment to both Murphy and Seabright. Murphy and Seabright refused to allow the police to come take a report at the store, and instead instructed Ms. Mack to clock out early—losing two and a half hours of pay on her shift—and file a “harassment order” at the police station. Ultimately, Ms. Mack discovered the police station was closed to walk-ins due to covid restrictions in place at the time, and she spoke with an officer on the telephone; the officer told her she could file a 50C protection from harassment/assault order in the morning, but that it would put a “target on her back,” and that AutoZone should ban the customer from the store.

Ms. Mack called Murphy and Seabright and requested the ban the police officer had recommended. Murphy and Seabright, however, disregarded the officer’s advice. Instead, they again directed Ms. Mack to come in late to go file for the protective order—again losing pay.

In the face of his intimidating harassment, AutoZone allowed W.J. to continue regularly calling the store telephone line, greatly upsetting Ms. Mack, who was constantly at risk of picking up his calls. On or about March 2, 2022, W.J. allegedly called the store about four times in a row. Ms. Mack reported his call by text to Seabright:


She called Murphy and explained that allowing her harasser to call the store made no sense. Nonetheless, AutoZone continued permitting him to call. On or about March 23, 2022, Ms. Mack again texted Seabright reporting continued calls:


Seabright then confirmed to Ms. Mack that the customer was allowed to call the store and to continue doing business with the store, regardless of his harassment of Ms. Mack. She protested, and told Seabright that she would not assist W.J. when he called.

Ms. Mack nearly quit her position at AutoZone, but was persuaded to return by Murphy. But after she refused to assist W.J., Seabright allegedly began a campaign of retaliation against her. He made derogatory and unprofessional remarks about Ms. Mack to AutoZone customers, who reported those comments to her afterward; he also told Ms. Mack: “I’m fucking pissed off at you, I don’t like you, I don’t respect you, and I won’t support your or help you and I’m even more pissed off at fucking Kevin [Murphy] for letting you come back here because if I had my way you would never work for AutoZone again.” He interfered with Ms. Mack’s ability to do her work, leaving Ms. Mack shorthanded, taking a delivery vehicle without notice, and refusing to help on Ms. Mack’s counter during the day, making it impossible for her to perform her work well. Ms. Mack was so distressed by the continued retaliation that her husband came to the store on or about June 29, 2022, where he confronted Seabright about his treatment of Ms. Mack.

The next day, Ms. Mack met with Regional Managers Dobbs and Will, along with District Manager Murphy. When asked why her husband was angry with Seabright, Ms. Mack explained that he had been upset ever since Seabright’s inadequate response to the sexual harassment. Shockingly, Dobbs and Will showed no awareness of Ms. Mack’s sexual harassment complaints—making clear that neither Seabright nor Murphy had ever elevated those complaints to their own supervisors as required by AutoZone’s own policies.

Despite Ms. Mack’s complaints, AutoZone simply continued failing to protect her from Jones’s ongoing harassment: in or about at least the week of August 8, 2022, W.J. called the store yet again.

The sexual harassment, and AutoZone’s failure to protect Ms. Mack from it, had a devastating impact emotionally. Ms. Mack is now seeking justice, with the aim of ensuring that no other workers have to deal with sexual harassment and touching from customers simply to keep their job at AutoZone.

This isn’t the first time Friedman & Houlding LLP has represented an employee of AutoZone, where the company is alleged to have failed in its response to reported harassment. In Ward v. AutoZoners, LLP, we represented an employee through trial and an appeal, after the Company’s response to a modest settlement demand was only ever met with a $25,000 counter-offer. The jury awarded $910,000, which included $660,000 in punitive damages. Ultimately, the plaintiff received more than $250,000 in compensatory damages, and the Company paid over $500,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs to Friedman & Houlding LLP.

Jury awards $910,000 against AutoZone for Sexual Harassment in case tried by Friedman & Houlding- emotional distress damages upheld on appeal

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