Zimmer Biomet is asking a federal judge to end a years-old case in which a former SVP claims the company discriminated against her by not granting her severance pay after her resignation.
In a Dec. 22 filing in support of summary judgment in federal court in Northern Indiana, lawyers for the Warsaw, Ind.–based orthopedics giant described Robin Barney’s latest arguments as a “contrivance.”
Barney’s lawyers in a Dec. 3 filing said she had a “figurative gun to her head” when she resigned as SVP of global operations and logistics in 2016. Top management at the time was asking her to make potentially illegal misrepresentations about violations that had turned up at a Warsaw plant, according to Barney.
Barney claimed through her lawyers that the company in denying her severance after the resignation treated her less favorably than men in similar positions at the company who had left. The resignation, Barney argued, was a negotiating tactic.
Zimmer Biomet, however, said Barney’s story undermined her constructive discharge argument. “Working conditions cannot be intolerable if Barney viewed her resignation as a negotiating ploy.” The two male executives she compared herself to were not similarly situated, according to the company.
U.S. District Court Judge Jon DiGuilio in 2018 dismissed Barney’s claim for stock options after her resignation but left the door open at the time for her to continue her claim for severance.