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Pay up promptly when offering severance

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in HR Management,Human Resources

Sometimes, it’s clear from the moment that you decide to terminate an em­­ployee that she will sue. If that’s the case, a small severance payment may prevent litigation. But if you offer to settle, make sure you follow through promptly.

Recent case: Jessica, who is white, was offered a severance payment in exchange for quitting. When the payment didn’t materialize, she filed an EEOC complaint alleging race and age discrimination. But she missed the 180-day deadline for filing in North Carolina. The employer argued she missed her chance to sue.

The court said Jessica might have a valid excuse if she could amend her complaint to explain she relied on the promise of severance pay and therefore hadn’t filed her EEOC complaint on time. Otherwise, her case will be dismissed. (Mitchell v. Scotland Memo­­rial, et al., No. 1:13-CV-482, MD NC, 2013)

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