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Brandon M.
Brandon M., Counselor at Law
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 12237
Experience:  Licensed attorney
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I filed a sexual harassment and racial discrimination charge

Resolved Question:

I filed a sexual harassment and racial discrimination charge against my former employer with the EEOC. I went to mediation and the former employer offered me $3,000 to settle. I asked for $6,000 and they agreed on $5,000 but I honestly feel that I was short-changed because I was making $45,000 a year and now I am black listed and it will be difficult for me to find a position in my field again. Can I rescind the settlement with the EEOC and my former employer since it just took place today?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Brandon M. replied 1 year ago.

Brandon M. :

Hello there.

Brandon M. :

Thank you for your question. Did you sign a settlement agreement?

Customer:

Yes

Brandon M. :

Thanks for that information. We have all heard of "buyer's remorse", but "litigator's remorse" is when parties reach a settlement and subsequently regret their settlement decision.

Brandon M. :

Litigator's remorse is not a legally valid basis for rescinding an otherwise valid agreement. Neither party in that situation has a right to go back on their agreement. You wouldn't be allowed to rescind your acceptance of their offer, and they would not be able to rescind their offer that you accepted.

Brandon M. :

If there was another basis for rescission, then it could still be done. For example, if the agreement had a clause built into it that it would not become binding for 48 hours, that would generally permit rescission.

Customer:

The EEOC mediator was polite but was "pushing" me toward settling for no more than $5,000 because she said that my case would most likely not be pursued by the EEOC and that it did not have a great deal of merit. Do you think I made the right decision by taking very little money instead of hiring an attorney and taking this matter to court? I am a teacher and my name was somewhat tarnished by the co-worker who harassed me.

Customer:

Also, school district communicate with each other informally through superintendent meetings, lunches, etc. and chances are I won't be rehired by another school district if this settlement leaks out even though the school district signed an agreement not to disclose this information and they agreed to give me a favorable letter of recommendation. But as you know, there are always ways to leak out information without it coming back to anyone in particular.

Brandon M. :

The offer is as strong as the case, but I can tell you that the EEOC cherry picks its cases--it has very limited resources and only takes those that are of social or political significance. In other words, if there is political will to take a case or if they need to make a special example out of someone. So for any given case, it is very unlikely that the EEOC would puruse a matter.

Brandon M. :

I understand your concern about the information being leaked, but keep in mind it hasn't happened yet. That sort of violation is very risky for the school district--you no longer work for them, so they really have nothing to gain and everything to lose by leaking information out of spite. It could be that you are working with some very small personalities, but they would have to be small AND stupid to do something like that. It's unlikely, but it does happen; fortunately, any attorney would be very happy to take the case if it did.

Customer:

So, as far as rescinding the settlement the answer is no?

Brandon M. :

Litigator's remorse is not a basis for rescinding settlement agreements. There would have to be something else, like an option for rescission built into the agreement itself.

Brandon M. :

I hate delivering bad news, but I do hope that this helps you to understand the law in this matter. Did you have any other question?

Customer:

Well, the agreement I signed written out by the school district's attorney states that I can cancel that agreement within seven days. Does that mean I can cancel the settlement with them?

Brandon M. :

I can't see why not... I'm surprised that you didn't mention that earlier!

Brandon M. :

I should be clear that because the nuances of every contract and case are unique, this information should not be construed as complete or advice without consulting in person with legal counsel. But that said, the general rule is that if a contract has a cancellation clause permitting cancellation within seven days of signing, it can be cancelled altogether within seven days of signing.

Customer:

So in essence, the agreement written out by the attorney supersedes the EEOC document I signed written by the EEOC?

Brandon M. :

I apologize, but I thought were were talking about one document.

Brandon M. :

I'm not sure what is being asked. Please clarify?

Brandon M. :

Are you talking about an EEOC settlement agreement that was subsequently modified by the school district's attorney?

Customer:

I signed an EEOC Mediation agreement and immediately after I signed a document drafted by their attorney that is entitled "General Release" and that document states I have 7 days to cancel it.

Brandon M. :

That makes it sound like you settled your EEOC complaint in the mediation agreement and you settled any and all other potential claims in the General Release.

Brandon M. :

Is that what happened or was it something else?

Customer:

The clause states " the Claimant understand that she has the right to revoke this Agreement for any reason within seven calendar days after she signs it by sending a written notice of revocation" to their attorney.

Customer:

Yes, I think that is what happened?

Brandon M. :

How was the settlement of $5,000 addressed in the attorney-drafted agreement?

Customer:

Payment for release of claims

Customer:

"Upon the expiration of the applicable revocation period set forth below, and provided that Claimant has not revoked this Agreement, the Trust or the District will pay Claimant the amount of $5,000 as follows"

Customer:

The District will pay $5,000 to Claimant to be designated as back wages. With respect to this payment, the District will withhold all standard withhholdings as required by state and federal law.

Brandon M. :

I need to explain that it is technically impossible to interpret one clause of a contract or agreement without examining the entire document or the context of the document. It is like showing you a picture of an elephant trunk and asking you to identify to what animal it belongs--you could say with great confidence that it is probably a trunk of an elephant, but without examining the animal to which it is attached you could not say for certain. So, please understand that my answer is not based on complete information and it therefore is potentially incomplete and it should not be relied upon as complete. That said, where there is a general release allowing a cancellation period and where there is valuable consideration being granted, the cancellation period generally applies to the valuable consideration. In other words, if there's an offer of money in exchange for a release, and where there's an option to cancel, the offer of money can ordinarily be renegotiated--that's the point of the cancellation clause.

Customer:

Ok, that's what I thought.

Customer:

So, are you available and willing to assist me with this matter?

Customer:

Are you there?

Brandon M. :

Sorry... I did not see your post.

Brandon M. :

Unfortunately, one of the terms of the website is that I am disallowed from having direct contact with the customers (lest I steal away their business, I suppose). However, I am glad to answer through the website any future questions that may arise in this matter.

Customer:

Ok, thank you.

Brandon M. :

Sorry, if you don't mind attempting to leave a rating again, that would be great. Thanks.

Brandon M., Counselor at Law
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 12237
Experience: Licensed attorney
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