HUNTINGTON – A Kentucky woman is suing over claims her employer told her she hired too many women and subsequently fired her.

Cindy Delong filed a lawsuit Oct. 22 in Cabell Circuit Court against AutoZone Stores Inc., citing gender discrimination.

According to the complaint, Delong had 32 years of management experience in the auto parts business when she was hired by AutoZone as district manager of 13 stores Sept. 13, 2012, and became the only female of the nine district managers in the region, with only one other managing as many stores as her. Delong says the regional manager told her May 9 that she'd hired too many women to work in the South Williamson, Ky., store, and the customers weren't used to so many women in the store.

The lawsuit states Delong was placed on a 30-day performance improvement plan May 14, which required her to meet goals that were just implemented, meaning there was no record of performance upon which to improve, and she was the only district manager to be placed on an improvement plan, even though there were at least two male managers whose stores performed much worse than hers.

Delong says on June 19, fewer than 30 days into her 30-day performance improvement plan, she was terminated and told she was "not a good fit for the company." The complaint states the district was realigned to be nine stores instead of 13, and a male who had previously been fired by AutoZone was placed in her position. According to the lawsuit, the other four stores in her district, plus two more that were set to open, were put into another district where a male was placed as district manager. The defendant is accused of gender discrimination.

Delong seeks compensatory damages, including past and future lost wages and benefits, interest and attorney fees.

She is represented by attorneys Amy C. Crossan and Niel R. Boushillon of Bouchillon, Crossan and Colburn in Huntington. The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Christopher D. Chiles.

Cabell Circuit Court case number: 14-C-768

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