The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has joined six other circuits in holding that a paid suspension does not qualify as an adverse employment action under Title VII.
Michelle Jones had been suspended with pay while her employer SEPTA investigated allegations of fraudulent timesheets. At the end of the investigation, it fired her. She filed suit alleging sex discrimination and retaliation as well as a few other charges. Ms. Jones asserted that her paid suspension was a discriminatory act.
For the first time, the Third Circuit reviewed whether the paid suspension should qualify as an “adverse employment action.” To establish a discrimination claim, the employee must show that the employer’s discriminatory acts resulted in negative changes to the “compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment.” The paid suspension in this case did not negatively impact the terms and conditions of her employment. Thus, the employee failed to establish a case of discrimination under Title VII. Ms. Jones lost on her other claims as well because she failed to report discrimination per the company’s internal reporting policies and the employer took prompt and remedial action once informed. Ms. Jones did not allege that her paid suspension was retaliatory.