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Different severance OK–if there’s a legal rationale

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in Firing,Human Resources

When planning a reduction in force, you can offer different employees different severance payments—as long as it’s based on a nondiscriminatory reason, such as length of service.

Recent case: Ronald, who is white, worked as a county assistant district attorney and was promoted to a management position. He held the job for three years until a reduction in force eliminated his job and that of another, Hispanic, employee.

However, the other employee received 41 days of notice and benefits while Ronald received just three days’ notice. He sued, alleging discrimination based on race.

But the county argued that it gave the Hispanic employee more notice (and extended benefits) because she was a 20-year employee, while Donald was relatively new. That was a sufficient justification for the difference. (Heggemeier v. Caldwell County, No. 15-50485, 5th Cir., 2016)

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