Possible discrimation- take the severance anyway?

I was recently laid off after 7 years of employment (manager position for 4), I was told my position was being eliminated due to restructure. I was a manager of dept. of 4 employees. I am a 43-year old mother of four children. the owner of the company made a comment to me in the past about me being a "working mother" and was concerned the I could handle certain situations. Now, the four people left in the dept I managed are all young girls with no children. They have offered me a 16 week severance package and health insurance paid for the year.
Is it worth taking this offer or are they guilty of discrimination and trying to get off easy?

1 answer  |  asked Jan 6, 2007 8:55 PM [EST]  |  applies to Pennsylvania

Answers (1)

Christopher Ezold
The answer depends on whether men or childless women are treated differently than you.

Before I respond to your inquiry, I must state that we have not spoken, I have not reviewed the relevant documents and facts, and I do not represent you. Therefore, my discussion below is not a legal opinion, but is informational only. Finally, my discussion applies only to issues to which Pennsylvania or Federal law apply, unless otherwise specified.

That being said, the answer depends on whether men or childless women are treated differently than you. It is not illegal to discriminate against parents. It is illegal to treat women differently than men, or to treat women differently based on discriminatory stereotypes (such as the stereotype that women with children are not able to work).

If your job truly was eliminated, you likely have no claim. However, if one of your childless reports is promoted to your former position, or takes on all of your responsibilities, then the 'job elimination' reason you were given might just be no more than a pretext for terminating you.

Furthermore, if there are several managers at your level, and if some of them are less qualified than you but are men or have no children, but you were the one laid off, you may also have a claim.

Discrimination claims are very fact-dependent; I would need to know more before I could say that you have a claim. If the severance/insurance package requires you to sign a waiver of claims, you will lose your claims if you take the severance. You will need to decide whether the value of your claim (which could be anywhere from 1 year of salary to several years of salary) is worth losing the severance. The severance is guaranteed, but the claim may fail, and will likely take a year or more to resolve.

If you would like to discuss this matter further, please feel free to contact me at the below address(es) or number.

/Christopher E. Ezold/
Nancy O'Mara Ezold, P.C.
One Belmont Avenue,
Suite 501
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004
(610) 660-5585

posted by Christopher Ezold  |  Jan 7, 2007 11:50 AM [EST]

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