In a ruling of first impression, the Fourth Circuit held last week that providing discriminatory severance packages can create a cause of action under Title VII.
In Gerner v. County of Chesterfield (opinion), the plaintiff, a former female employee, alleged the County offered her a severance package less-favorable than those offered to similarly situated males. The district court dismissed the case, ruling that the severance package was not a contractual right of employment and therefore a discriminatory severance offer could not constitute an adverse employment action under Title VII.
The Fourth Circuit disagreed, ruling that offering discriminatory severance packages is, in fact, an adverse employment action. It remanded the case back to the trial court.