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.
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I wish you the best in 2013,