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Court rules suspension without pay not adverse action

Workers in California may wonder whether being suspended from a position with pay is an adverse employment action that employees are protected against under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to a judgment by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, it is not. While the 3rd Circuit covers only Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and the U.S. Virgin Islands, other courts have made a similar decision.

In this particular case, a woman was placed on suspension with pay while her employer investigated whether she had falsified her time sheets. She was terminated after the investigation found that she had. The woman then filed a lawsuit claiming retaliation and sex discrimination. She also said that she was subject to a hostile work environment.

The court ruled that pay with suspension is not an adverse action because it does not change the terms or conditions of employment. It found that retaliation did not seem to be in evidence because no connection was proven between her paid suspension and her harassment complaint. It also did not find the company liable for harassment because she did not adequately follow the employer's remedies for dealing with such complaints internally. Furthermore, once notified of the harassment, the employer took appropriate action.

People who feel that they have faced discrimination in the workplace may wish to consult an attorney. In some cases, seeking legal advice early is advisable even if the person is not certain whether or not to proceed with a claim. In many cases, documenting any harassment and reporting it to a supervisor or human resources may help to resolve the situation.

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