Title VII’s protections against gender discrimination can extend to former employees complaining about the severance package they were offered, according to a recent federal appeals court ruling. In Gerner v. County of Chesterfield, Virginia, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that offering less favorable, non-contractual employment benefits can be an “adverse employment action” under Title VII and that a former employee can sue based on such a theory.
Karla Gerner was employed by Chesterfield County, Virginia for more than 25 years when her job was eliminated in a December 2009 re-organization. The County offered her three months of severance pay, along with health benefits, in exchange for her signing a general release of all claims. Gerner declined the offer. The County terminated her employment and provided her with no severance benefits. Gerner then filed a lawsuit claiming that the County discriminated against her based on her sex by offering her a less favorable severance package than that offered to similarly-situated male employees. Continue Reading Fourth Circuit Holds that Former Employee Can Sue for Discrimination Based on Severance Offer