South Carolina Employment Law Letter: Is Denying Severance Benefits an Adverse Employment Action? 4th Circuit Weighs In.

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The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all South Carolina employers) recently provided insight and guidance on what may qualify as an adverse employment action in a discrimination case. Read on to see what the court said.

Factual and procedural background
Mary David worked as the nursing director at Winchester Medical Center (WMC). On September 3, 2014, WMC informed her that she was being terminated. The overarching dispute in the case was whether the employer dismissed her because she had reported misconduct or because she had engaged in it.

After properly filing a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), David filed a lawsuit alleging two claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. First, she claimed WMC discriminated against her by disciplining her more harshly than it disciplined a male doctor. Second, she alleged her complaints against the doctor qualified as protected activity and that WMC retaliated against her for complaining by discharging her.

David also alleged she engaged in protected activity when she declined WMC’s severance agreement and that the hospital then retaliated against her by (1) withholding the value of her paid time off (PTO), (2) classifying her dismissal as a termination, and (3) backdating her last workday. The trial court dismissed her complaint, and she appealed to the 4th Circuit.

Download the full article, "Is Denying Severance Benefits an Adverse Employment Action? 4th Circuit Weighs In" written by Richard Morgan.


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