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Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 18808
Experience:  Employment/Labor Law Litigation
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I have been laid off and asked to sign a general release in

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I have been laid off and asked to sign a general release in exchange for 4 weeks severance. I don't have issue with layoff but feel I was harassed, singled out and attempts were made to get me to quit over the previous year. If I sign release, does that really make it impossible to later address not the layoff but my treatment previously.
Thank you for your question today, I look forward to assisting you. I bring nearly 20 years of legal experience in various disciplines.

How do you feel that you were singled out? Was is based on your race, religion, gender, age, disability or FMLA use?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I believe it was my gender, age and my disability. I had a heart attack in June of 2011, in the middle of a great year (performance wise). My attempts to reconstruct my working style subsequently were not acceptable to supervisor. After a good year, 2012 was marked by zero feedback/reviews until November, and in March of this year I received no merit increase, much smaller participation in the bonus program and a written performance warning. I completed all steps in my "rehabilitation", went on vacation and returned to my notice.

Ok. Then you certainly may have legal issues that you can pursue through the EEOC on all counts.

That being said, if you do sign the release you will be barred from suing them (assuming that they do the release correctly, which isn't that difficult). Courts do hold employees to these types of contracts because severance is not a legal requirement in any state. You would legally be getting something in return for giving up something.

So, you have to make a choice. 4 weeks of severance and you give up on any claims or you give up your severance in exchange for the speculation of bringing discrimination claims.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

That's what I feared. It's hard to make that call when I don't know what size of claim I might ultimately have. So Courts DO hold employees to these releases even though my issue isn't with the termination? Are there exceptions? Is it possible for to explore what my claim might be with a lawyer within the 7 days I have? I'm not sure if this is service that lawyers provide or not.

Absolutely courts hold employees to these releases, if they are written correctly.

When you sign a release, you are releasing all claims that may have existed prior to the date of the release.

There are not exceptions. The release is either effective, and you can't sue, or it isn't effective. However, if it is found to be ineffective, you could sue but you'd have to return the money you took.

Sure, it is possible to at least explore a claim, but until the EEOC has completed an investigation, it is really hard to know the strength of a claim based just on what you say. Nothing against you at all, but we all see things very clearly from our own perspective, but not from other's perspectives. The EEOC would do a full investigation, and know your side, their side, everyone's side. Only then can a claim really be evaluated.
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