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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 102184
Experience:  Years of experience in running a medium sized law firm.
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Yesterday I was -off and my position as a sales trainer was

Customer Question

Yesterday I was laid-off and my position as a sales trainer was eliminated. My boss told me he needed a Spanish speaking trainer. I was given a release form to sign so that I could receive a severance but have not yet signed. Do I have a discrimination case I can file against my employer.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note:This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

I am sorry to hear about this situation. On this website, I do not always get to give good news, and this is one of these times. I understand that hearing things less than optimal is not easy, and I empathize. Thanks in advance for not "shooting the messenger."

It is not discriminatory to seek someone who speaks another language for the position. I am sorry. Now, if the employer stated "We want someone Hispanic," that would be different. This would be discrimination by race/ethnicity/country of origin.

However, an employer can terminate an employee if they feel that the employee lacks a skill that the job requires - in this instance this skill being speaking Spanish.

Please note: If I tell you simply what you wish to hear, this would be unfair to you. I need to be honest with you and sometimes this means providing information that is not optimal. Negative ratings are reserved for experts who are rude or for erroneous information. Please rate me on the quality of my information; do not punish me for my honesty.

I hope this helps and clarifies. Please use the SEND or REPLY button to keep chatting, or please RATE when finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating. Kindly rate my answer as one of TOP THREE FACES/STARS and then SUBMIT, as this is how experts get credit for our time. Rating my answer the bottom two faces/stars (or failing to submit the rating) does not give me credit and reflects poorly on me, even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith with a positive rating.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Do I have any case for wrongful termination? What about the release form that absolves the company from any wrongdoing, I will only get my severance pay if I sign it. Is this a wise thing to do?
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.

Do I have any case for wrongful termination?

Per the firing over someone who speaks Spanish? No. Again, not unless the employer was specifically looking for a Hispanic employee over another race.

About the release - a release should not stop an ex-employee from filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or equivalent state agency, but HAS BEEN held up in Court in some jurisdictions as precluding such a claim.

If the severance is part of a contract/employee handbook, then it is due whether the employee signs the release or not and if it is not paid due the employee refusing to sign, an employee can file for a wage complaint for it.

If the severance is NOT part of a contract/employee handbook, then it is at the good will of the employer, and may be not paid if the employee refuses to sign.

Gentle Reminder: Please, use REPLY or SEND button to keep chatting, or RATE POSITIVELY and SUBMIT your rating when we are finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.

Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Hello again. This is a courtesy check in to see if you needed anything else in regards ***** ***** question because you never rated positively. I am simply touching base. Let me know. Thanks!