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LawTalk, Attorney
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 27889
Experience:  I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
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I have a seperation letter that needs to be signed from my

Customer Question

I have a seperation letter that needs to be signed from my employer. It states that this is a agreement between me and them that if I signed the letter they will give me 3 weeks pay and not contest unemployment but I cannot sued them or allow any other employee about the letter and not ruin their reputation. This company is a at will company. I need a lawyer to explain or look at the letter.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.
Good afternoon,

I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of your situation. My goal is to provide you with excellent service today.

Who drafted the letter---you or the employer?

What about the letter is it that you don't understand? Can you be a bit more specific?

Doug
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

My employer drafted the letter. I don't understand why a at will employer would draft such a letter. They have had a discrimination case reported to the fair labor board back in October 2010 by their human resource personel regarding me.

Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.
Good afternoon,

They are offering a severance payment in exchange for you agreeing not to sue them for anything. That is a common clause in a severance agreement when the employer things that you might have any reason to sue them.

They want the agreement to remain private so that any other employee they let go does not try and claim that they are entitled to a severance agreement too, because you got one.

As for a severance package in CA---keep in mind that if the money you get is not stated in a writing as compensation for you giving up any rights you might have to sue the employer---if it is simply a lump sum of money, then unemployment will consider it wages and you will be ineligible for unemployment benefits until the number of weeks has passed which equals the weekly pay you received before termination divided into the amount of severance pay you receive. If you have to give up the right to sue in writing in order to get the severance, then you will be eligible for unemployment immediately.


You may reply back to me using the Continue the Conversation or Reply to Expert link if you need any clarification of my answer.


Please remember to rate my service to you when our communication is completed, so that I will be compensated for my time in providing you with the information you requested. I will be happy to continue further, and to assist you until I am able to address your concerns, to your satisfaction.

I wish you the best in 2013,

Doug

Customer: replied 1 year ago.


It states in the serverance package that if I sign the agreement by March 11 the company will pay 3 weeks of my current base salary and will be paid by lump sum. I have already applied for unemployment so if I don't sign will my unemployment be interupted it states in the seperation pay paragraph that unemployment will not be contested but what if I don't sign it there is nothing stating anything about if I don't sign about unemployment. I am sorry about all the questions, I just want to make sure of my rights and lets be honest 3 weeks is not a lot of money for a company to let you go for no reason and not even a review to let you know how you were doing.

Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.
Good afternoon,

Whether you sign or not, your unemployment will continue. If you sign and get the 3 weeks payment you can keep it on top of your unemployment.

If you don;t sign it, and they have a good reason to contest your unemployment claim, they may do so. If they lest you go for no reason, then that would not be a for cause termination and it will not affect your unemployment.

You never mentioned WHY they let you go. Only that someone complained about discrimination. Was that you or someone who complained about you?

You may reply back to me using the Continue the Conversation or Reply to Expert link if you need any clarification of my answer.


Please remember to rate my service to you when our communication is completed, so that I will be compensated for my time in providing you with the information you requested. I will be happy to continue further, and to assist you until I am able to address your concerns, to your satisfaction.

I wish you the best in 2013,

Doug
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


The human resource personel call the fair labor board because someone made a statement about me regarding my race something of the terms that the only reason I got hired was because I did not look my age and I did not look black so they were investigated and I believe had to pay a fine but soon after that happen the HR personel quit he said he felt uncomfortable there and he was force to quit. They gave me no reason as to really why. Just gave me the seperation letter and said that I was not a right fit for the company.

Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.
How long had you worked there?

Were you aware of the discriminatory comment made about you before you learned of it from HR?

How did HR learn of it?

Doug
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


I was not aware of the discriminary comment until HR called and told me that a comment was said and he said that he felt that they were trying to get rid of me for no reason.


 


The comment was made to him directly.

Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.
Well, I don't see any indication that you were discriminated against---at least such that you would have any claim against the employer.

How was it that the CA Department of Fair Employment and Housing became involved? Who reported the incident to them? Their involvement makes no sense at all if the employee made this comment and then was dealt with by your employer.

If you don't know all that transpired---that is fine. I'm just interested intellectually. I see no reason why the DFEH would have been reported to based on one discriminatory comment made by an employee to someone in HR. Who was this employee who made the comment?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


It was the owner of the company who made the comment to H.R regarding me. He had everything written down and showed the labor board proof. We had recently hired a person and my supervisor and the owner started to treat me diffrently. So the comment was made and he reported the comment or comments that were probably made before I even got there. So the Fair Labor Board interview me and the owner and H. R along with my peers. I did not want to do the interview because I was afraid that the owner would hold it against me and at some point get rid of me. The labor board told me not to worry and they could not fire me because of this interview. The owner ended up paying a fine and was told that they could no longer hire and interview for positions for the company. After everything got settle the H. R Person felt like he could not put up with the owner anymore and made it very difficult for him to work there so he quit. I have work there for over 2 and 6 months. Got a very good review the first year second year everyone got a review but me and everyone got a raise but me. They kept putting off my review and then kept trying to get my loan officer to say that I was not working out and he would not do it because I help my loan officer get to the number one status. My loan officer even came to me and said he thought that they were trying to get rid of me because they were trying to find reasons to let me go. Next thing you know I get a seperation letter stating that we made a agreement. They have also hired someone else for my position already so it was something that was planned out. My loan officer has stated that if I do go to the fair labor board that he would back me up because there was no justification for them to let me go.

Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for the detailed information.

How long ago did all this DFEH investigation occur?

When were you told you were being let go?

How many employees are in your company, or branches within 75 miles of where you worked? More than 50, more than 100?

Doug
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


The investigation occur in November 2010. I was not told. My Manager flew down from San Franciso and called me in the office with the new H.R. Personel and was told that I was going to be let go and presented the seperation letter. Just said I was not a right fit for the company.


 


The Company is located in San Francisco so they have more then 50 people. Maybe around 55 people in all. I was working in a satellite office in the Los Angeles area with my loan officer and another peer.

Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.

Your manager flew down when---certainly not in 2010. We are talking about a recent termination, yes?

Doug

Customer: replied 1 year ago.


My Manage flew down the day they let me go 2/11/13. There are a total of 3 people that work in the satellite office and that was including myself.


 


 

Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for the information.

Here is the problem I see. Based on the fact that the owner clearly has expressed discriminatory comments about you, and the company has been investigated for this discrimination---even though the investigation took place 3 years ago---because they gave you such an entirely lame excuse for terminating you---that after these years of exemplary employment, that you were all of a sudden not a good fit for the company---well, to me that smacks of continuing discrimination.

If you sign that severance agreement, you will waive your right to sue the company. I think that is a bad idea at this point in time and strongly suggest that you meet with a local employment discrimination attorney to discuss your options, and that you also consider filing formal complaints of discrimination.

I've been a licensed CA attorney for nearly 3 decades, and for two of those, I have handled employment discrimination law and litigated cases against employers. Your description of the situation seems to indicate that there may well be discrimination going on based on your race/national origin and age (if you are over 40).

CA law prohibits harassment and discrimination in the workplace and if this is happening to you, you do have a legal remedy.

Workplace harassment/discrimination is any unwelcome or unwanted conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or an aversion toward another person on the basis of any characteristic protected by law, which includes an individual's race, color, gender, ethnic or national origin, age, religion, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other personal characteristic protected by law. A conduct is considered unwelcome if the employee did not solicit, instigate or provoke it, and the employee regards XXXXX XXXXX as undesirable or offensive.


In CA you have two possible avenues of approach to dealing with discrimination. If your goal is to ultimately sue in Federal Court, then you will file a complaint with the EEOC, and if you want to be in the CA Superior Court---local to your county---then you will file with the DFEH and, if you want to, with the EEOC as well. You must file a formal complaint of discrimination with the EEOC within 300 days of the alleged discriminatory act, and within one year for the CA DFEH.


You may file a formal complaint with the CA Department of Fair Employment and Housing alleging discrimination based on your race and/or national origin.

To do this you must first make an appointment with the Department to be interviewed, either over the phone or at a local DFEH office. You may call the DFEH at(NNN) NNN-NNNN or apply on line by using the Department’s "Online Appointment System." The system will guide you through questions to determine whether an appointment is right for you.

Alternatively, you may file a complaint with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). If your company has 15 or more employees (the DFEH only requires that there be 5 or more employees), they are prohibited from discriminating against you. To file a complaint with the EEOC, contact the nearest Equal Employment Opportunity Commission field office. To be automatically connected with the nearest office, call(NNN) NNN-NNNN EEOC website: www.eeoc.gov

Federal law specifically prohibits discrimination, based upon the Ethnicity, Color, Religion, National Origin, Age, Sex and Disability of an individual, with regard to hiring, promotion and firing.


After you file the complaint, your employer will be prohibited from any retaliatory action against you. The EEOC will investigate your claim, and 180 days after the filing of the complaint you may ask for a "right to sue letter". The EEOC will issue you the letter which gives you the right to institute a private civil action against your employer and seek monetary damages.


You may reply back to me using the Continue the Conversation or Reply to Expert link if you need any clarification of my answer.


Please remember to rate my service to you when our communication is completed, so that I will be compensated for my time in providing you with the information you requested. I will be happy to continue further, and to assist you until I am able to address your concerns, to your satisfaction.

I wish you the best in 2013,

Doug

LawTalk, Attorney
Satisfied Customers: 27889
Experience: I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
LawTalk and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your positive rating of my service. It has been my pleasure to assist you and I hope you will ask for me on JustAnswer should a future need ever arise.

Please feel free to bookmark the following link so you can request me to answer any future legal questions you may have:
http://www.justanswer.com/law/expert-lawtalk/

Thanks again.

Doug

When you receive your Customer Satisfaction Survey from JustAnswer, please do rate me highly (8-10) there as well. It benefits my ability to assist you and other customers, and would be tremendously appreciated.

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I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.