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NC - Company of 31+ years was purchased by another company.

I was retained with new...
NC - Company of 31+ years was purchased by another company. I was retained with new company at a much reduced rate of pay. Despite seeking to be moved into other areas where there were needs and positions available that would pay closer to my salary, I was left in my current field. After 2 Full time clerks were brought into my office under the pre-text of "moving me out of the dispatch role into more of a management role", I was released stating "business decision" - Corporate Cut Backs.
JA: Is the employment agreement "at will," union, full time or part time?
Customer: At Will
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: Just that it was presented as cut Backs despite the fact that they moved 2 more full time personnel into the office before removing me.
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Answered in 2 minutes by:
8/30/2017
Patrick, Esq.
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 13,082
Experience: Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
Verified

Hello and welcome. I am very sorry to hear about this. Do you have any reason to suspect that your age, race, religion or something along those lines might have been your employer's true reason for letting you go? If so, what facts are you basing your opinion on? I very much look forward to helping you on this matter.

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Customer reply replied 2 months ago
Nothing concrete, Age is the only thing that makes sense since the positions around me that would have gotten me to my salary level were all filled with younger personnel with less experience. Wasn't sure if anything could be made of it being called Corporate Cut Backs when in fact they had to put 2 more full time people in the office before I could be "released".

Thank you.

So the general rule in NC is that employment is "at will" absent an express agreement to the contrary. At will employment can be terminated for any reason not amounting to discrimination on the basis of a legally protected trait (race, religion, gender, etc.) or retaliation for engaging in certain forms of legally protected conduct (filing a wage claim, taking FMLA leave, etc.). It doesn't matter whether the basis for termination is fair, reasonable or even true.

This means it's not illegal for your employer to be dishonest about their reason for letting you go. They can call it a cutback even if that's not true. They might do something like that to spare your feelings or minimize controversy.

Where this is potentially relevant is if you have evidence of discrimination on the basis of a protected trait (as defined above). Then, the fact that your employer's stated reason for letting you go doesn't hold up suggests that it was merely a fabricated pretense to conceal their unlawful motive of discrimination. The thing is, you would bear the burden of proving that discrimination, and discrimination can be very hard to prove. Mere suspicion is not enough, and generally neither is the fact that you were replaced by someone younger. Just as a matter of odds, if you are older then chances are good that the person replacing you will be younger, simply because there are more people out there younger than you.

What I'd want to see is a pattern of targeting older employees, derogatory comments about your age, things along those lines. For instance, if your manager recently told you that you are "too old to keep up," and then you found out that 6 other older employees were let go while all younger employees were retained, that would strongly suggest age discrimination. But you really need evidence like this to prevail on such a claim.

Still, given your age and tenure with the company it certainly may be prudent to retain an attorney and see if some sort of severance can be negotiated wherein you agree to waive legal claims in exchange for financial compensation. Many employers will be willing to pay some amount of severance in these circumstances just to tie up loose ends and avoid the possibility of time consuming litigation. As far as an actual lawsuit goes, though, you would typically want more evidence.

I hope that you find this information helpful. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.

If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes moving forward.

* Disclaimer *

Just Answer is a venue for informational and educational purposes only. No attorney-client relationship is formed by these communications.

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Customer reply replied 2 months ago
Is there anything else you need? The paperwork I signed when I departed had items in it restricting me from seeking future employment which seems odd since this was a lay off and not a for cause termination.

Please see my answer above, I think our messages crossed.

What paperwork did you sign? Did you accept severance money? Did the clause restricting you from seeking further employment restrict you from working for this same employer in the future, or for someone else?

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Customer reply replied 2 months ago
Our messages did cross and Thank you for your thorough response. Basically it said what I suspected. The decision was probably based more on my rate of pay.The paperwork I signed was a waiver of legal claims in exchange for a 2 week severance. It is several pages long and after thoroughly reading it, noticed the disclaimer that "Releasor agrees not to seek reinstatement, future employment, or other working relationship with the company or any of its affiliates."It offers a 2 week Severance of $3079.93 after all waiting periods have passed. I assume that is because I was told that I could resend my waiver in the next 7 days and if I did, they would not pay the Severance.

Thank you.

So it sounds like you signed a fairly standard severance agreement. Two weeks is not a lot of severance money given your length of employment with the company, but since your employer didn't have to offer anything at all, it is still perhaps worth it if you don't believe you have the evidence to support a lawsuit.

By law, age discrimination cannot be waived unless the release contains a clause allowing the employee to rescind for 7 days after they sign. So yes, you could rescind, but if you did your employer obviously would not have to pay you the money they are offering. You could try to negotiate something better, but this could also backfire and you could wind up with nothing at all.

The clause about not seeking future employment is standard. It's there to prevent future lawsuits based on alleged discrimination. You can't waive claims for things that haven't happened yet, so employers are always worried that an employee will apply down the road and not be hired and then sue for discrimination based on that future incident. To avoid this from happening, they include a clause about being ineligible for future employment.

I hope this helps. Again, please feel free to let me know if you have any further concerns. If I have answered your question, I would be very grateful for a positive rating of my service (using the stars at the top of the page) so that I may receive credit for assisting you.

Very best wishes.

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Customer reply replied 2 months ago
Thank you.

You are very welcome. If there is anything else I can clarify for you before we wrap up please let me know...

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If I have answered your questions, please do not forget to leave positive feedback by clicking on the 5 stars at the top of your page, as the attorneys here are not employees of the site and otherwise do not receive credit for spending time with customers.

Best wishes to you as you move forward here.

Patrick, Esq.
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 13,082
Experience: Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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