Lexology (03/19/12) Maria Greco Danaher
In Gerner v. County of Chesterfield, the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reiterated that both current and former employees can bring an action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The case involved a woman whose position as human resources director for Chesterfield County, VA, was eliminated as part of a reorganization in 2009 and who was terminated for allegedly refusing to collect three months of pay and benefits as a severance in exchange for resigning and signing a waiver of legal claims against the county. The employee filed a lawsuit that accused the county of giving male former directors of county departments deals of up to six months of pay and benefits or putting them in positions with less responsibility for the same pay to “enhance their retirement benefits.”
The Fourth Circuit pointed to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Hishon v. King & Spalding, in which benefits may provide the basis for a Title VII claim if it is “part and parcel of the employee relationship.” Additionally, the Fourth Circuit said Title VII language protects “any individual.”
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