District of Columbia  |  Employment Law

Legal Question

Asked on: 4/07/13, 1:26 pm

I was singled out to be laid off from my job as a Corporate Relations Manager - only I was laid off. Coworkers in my group were allowed to retain their jobs and get other duties while I was told mine were obsolete. Everyone is white and female - I am black and male. I have 14 days to accept 4 weeks of severance pay and a lump sum COBRA payment. I think it is racial discrimination but I have no clear evidence. I was told in January that I would be transferred to another department which was acquiring the corporate relations function. Then, one month later I was told that I had 6 weeks left on my job because something changed - no one will tell me what - and there was no job for me at the other department or in my current dept. My supervisor is still doing the same work we did after I was thrown out so the explanation that my job tasks are obsolete is proven to be a lie. On my last day of my job, a white male temp that worked with me got a permanent job in same department that refused my transfer. I don't know if I have a case. If I pursue it, I have to refuse the severance agreement because it has a no liability clause that protects my employer (whose name is four initials) from legal action. I simply can't afford to pay thousands to retain a lawyer for months with the possibility of losing the case (if there is one) and ending up with nothing but legal bills. Should I just take the severance (about $4,000 in pay and whatever lump sum COBRA payment would be) and concentrate on finding a new job? Or risk everything by refusing the severance and letting the Office of Human Rights and EEOC investigate? I have been told by friends at work who have been there several years and seen this kind of thing before that this big, high-profile, Washington, DC-based non-profit organization that claims to represent older Americans and sells insurance has paid settlements to avoid the bad publicity that such a case of unfairness and discrimination in the workplace something they have fought against for years.

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