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Brandon M.
Brandon M., Counselor at Law
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 12573
Experience:  Licensed attorney
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I was layed off after 5.5 years with hp. I feel I was discrimited

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I was layed off after 5.5 years with hp. I feel I was discrimited against because of my age and race during my employment and in my layoff.
I have been asked to sign a waiver in final settlement. What should i do?

Brandon M. :

Hello there.

Brandon M. :

Thank you for your question. What are they offering you in your final settlement?

Customer:

60 days salary plus cash equivent of benefits, 4 months career coach.

Brandon M. :

Thank you for that information. Tell me about why you think race and age may have been factors in your termination.

Customer:

I am the oldes in my group by a lot of years. I an not AsXXXXX XXXXXke most of my group who are all close friends and relatives.

Brandon M. :

How old are you?

Customer:

59 this July

Brandon M. :

What reason were you given for being laid off?

Customer:

Business realignment. There were only two of us who worked in austin the other worked in san francisco.

Brandon M. :

There is rarely a smoking gun in a wrongful termination case, but we can sometimes look at the totality of the circumstances to conclude that a termination was unlawful. Let's pretend that I was a skeptical judge and you were trying to convince me that you were terminated because of your age and/or race--what evidence might you be able to offer to show that those were factors of consideration when you were chosen for business realignment?

Customer:

The only people laid off were my self and white co-worker in austin. No one in san francisco who are all friends s

Customer:

A

Brandon M. :

You said that you worked 5.5 years with "hp". Would that be Hewlett Packard?

Brandon M. :

I ask only because I am trying to understand your business environment, and I have some familiarity with Hewlett Packard.

Customer:

Yes.I was the only employee I austin for snapfish although they had lots of oriental hp employees and contractors

Customer:

This was snapfish and not run like hp corporate

Brandon M. :

Interesting. Prior to your termination, did you feel like there was a hostile environment due to your race or age?

Customer:

Yes. I was asked to work solo most of tge time and do on call 24/7 without support, unlike tge support my team mates in san francisco got. I also got bad reviews every year from them.

Customer:

I have past employees as witnesses

Brandon M. :

Let's discuss the perception of some of your co-workers. I realize that this might be asking you to speculate, but did any of your coworkers feel that you were treated differently because of your age or race?

Brandon M. :

That may have answered the question... past employees also felt that the work environment may have been hostile?

Customer:

They made the first helper resign as they tried to get him to work the same as me and he would not. The second2 guy also left due to the manager's pressure and the last one was very annoyed that they go rid of me and will attest to my bad treatment. He was going to leave as I was layed off but they stupidly gave him a package to go.

Brandon M. :

Thank you. I am almost finished with my questions, and I thank you again for your patience. Did they give you a deadline to respond to their offer? If so, when?

Customer:

45 days

Brandon M. :

Thanks. I should start by saying that because the nuances of every situation are different, this information should not be construed as complete or advice without consulting in person with counsel. That said, with any employment discrimination case, the burden of proof is on the person claiming discrimination, so the first thing that has to be done is the evidence has to be weighed. The question is whether it is more likely than not, based on the evidence, the employee's work environment was hostile. In other words, were they discriminated against due to their age (if over 40) or race, or some other illegal factor, such as gender.

Brandon M. :

You have said that there seems to an age and racial preference toward asians based on the totality of the circumstances and that others have felt the same way.

Customer:

Yes

Brandon M. :

So let's say that we could talk to these people and they would all agree, even citing some specific circumstances that would tend to prove it is more likely than not that the discrimination took place. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is not required... just a preponderance of the evidence.

Customer:

Yes

Brandon M. :

An unlawful termination can be worth hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars. I have not interviewed your co-workers and I have not heard the other side of the story, so it would be patently irresponsible to recommend that you turn down or accept the offer, but my initial reflex to your situation is to say that you have 45 days. First, even when there is absolutely no evidence of discrimination, a waiver of that nature is negotiable. It costs tens of thousands of dollars to defend against a wrongful termination suit, and there is always a chance that you will lose even if you have the best lawyers and you genuinely did not discriminate illegally. So it very seldom makes sense to accept an initial offer that only covers a few weeks of missed income.

Customer:

So I should get a lawyer and build my case?

Brandon M. :

What usually makes sense is to hire an employment attorney to examine the case, but also to negotiate a severance package even if a wrongful termination suit is not pursued. Why let them off easy? A lawyer will usually more than pay for himself/herself with the result and the tangible threat of legal action.

Brandon M. :

Best case scenario, the attorney can examine the evidence and decide that you have a solid case. Worst case, you have a substantial bargaining chip to get a better severance.

Brandon M. :

So yes, I believe that you should at least consult with an attorney and have that person work with you to negotiate a better severance.

Customer:

can you seggest a local lawyer in austin texas please?

Brandon M. :

I am actually prohibited from recommending a specific firm due to legal reasons, but what I would do is refer you to the Austin bar association for a referral. They can direct you to someone who meets whatever criteria you may have. You can use this website that they have established: http://www.austinlrs.com/

Brandon M. :

I realize that I can't solve everything, but has this helped your understanding? Does this all make sense?

Customer:

yes that helps a lot. Good night.

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