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Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 19168
Experience:  Employment/Labor Law Litigation
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I was given a confidential separation agreement and general

Customer Question

I was given a confidential separation agreement and general release 2 days ago stating my employer and I would agree that I would resign my position and in return I would receive 13 weeks severance pay along with insurance coverage. For receipt of my severance I would release my employer of any actions, suits, obligations, claims, etc. in the future. I have 21 days to consider the terms and conditions of the agreement and then 7 days to revoke. There is a confidentiality on my part to keep the terms of the agreement confidential and then there is a Non-Disparagement part that both parties agree that we will not disparage each other and there is a section that states that the organization may distribute a notice to all employees stating that I resigned my position to pursue alternative activities. When I (The previous Director of HR and current Interim Executive Director of another unit of the Organization) met with my supervisor (The President and CEO of the Organization) and the CFO I was told that he, the CFO and the interim Director of HR were the only ones aware of the situation (which I am totally NOT in agreement with).
I received a facebook message from another member of the Senior Administration team last night saying: I just now heard your news from "CNO", not "CEO". I am so sorry... and didn't see that coming. Keep me on speed dial.
I asked her exactly what was said and she responded with: all she said was, did "CEO" tell you that Shelly was let go yesterday? I said no and she made some comment about his being terrible about keeping us in the loop.
Am I wrong for believing that he has breached confidentiality here? I was given the agreement on Wednesday at 3:00 pm and I received this message yesterday. If I signed this agreement, I was agreeing to resign my position and that the message that went out would be that. I have 21 days to sign. How can he legally be telling people that I was let go? Do I have any legal grounds here?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for trusting your question to JA today. I am a licensed attorney with over a decade of law practice and over 20 years of experience in the legal field. I’m happy to be of assistance.

Yes, because there is no agreement yes. Unless and until you sign that document, there is no confidentiality attached to this situation at all by law. Furthermore, you stated that the agreement only imparts confidentiality on you not them (only the disparagement clause was mutual). If that's truly the case, they'll never have a confidentiality requirement even after they've signed it. If that is not what you meant, then they still have no confidentiality requirement until BOTH parties have signed the agreement.

No, you would have no legal grounds here. He can legally tell people that you have been let go because, presumably, they are prepared to terminate you whether you sign the agreement or not. No employer gets to this point if they are going to back down simply because you refuse to sign the agreement. If you don't sign it, they'll just terminate and then not have the benefit of your waiver of suit. They have to go into this prepared for that possibility.

Regrettably no, there is no cause of action for you here.

If you have any further questions, please let me know. I invite follow up questions, so use REPLY for those. If you have no further questions then good luck going forward and please do not forget to rate my service with a top-three rating so that I receive credit for working with you today. Also, feel free to request me in the future, if you have questions concerning a different matter.

Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hello, I wanted to check in and make sure that there was not any additional information that you required after the response I previously provided to you. If you need further assistance, please use REPLY and ask me for any additional information you may need. If not, take care and have a great day.