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I have an HR question. We let employees in one division go…

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I have an HR question...
I have an HR question. We let employees in one division go and I have one that will refuse to sign a severence agreement and seeking additional $$ as they felt that one of the other employees that was also let go created a hostle work environment while they were working here. Our currently lawyer recommends we pay it, but I refuse to settle.
Submitted: 8 years ago.Category: Legal
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6/30/2010
Lawyer: Law Educator, Esq., Attorney replied 8 years ago
Law Educator, Esq.
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 126,806
Experience: JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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What your attorney is suggesting is that the cost of him defending you even if you win would exceed the amount of the money the employee is asking for in severance. It is not that you are wrong or even deserve to pay it, but the economics of law dictates that you would spend more in attorney's fees than to the employee then it is best to settle the case. You can fight it if you choose and in that case tell your lawyer you rather see him get your money than the employee and chances are you would likely win, but only you can determine if the cost is worth it.

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Law Educator, Esq.
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 126,806
Experience: JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

The fact is, is that I would much rather see my attorney get the $$, but at $7,500 that she is asking vs $1,500 in severance we offerred, it will not cover the expenses of the attorney. I am a principle driven individual and would pay twice that to win in court. But do not want to end up with a $50k attoney bill at the end of all this.

 

Is this all she could sue us for (hostle work environment)? As she could not sue based on wrongful termination as we let that entire department go to outsource our process, right?

Lawyer: Law Educator, Esq., Attorney replied 8 years ago
In order to have a hostile work claim she must prove the conduct was based solely upon her age/race/sex/disability. The US Supreme Court has been very clear that the laws on workplace harassment/hostile work environment must be based on the age/race/sex/disability of the complainant and the laws were not intended to create a code of civility in the workplace (See: Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore). She would also only have 180 days since the last act of alleged hostility to file such a claim. I can tell you that legal fees on these cases can be fairly steep when you figure your attorney likely is charging $250-$350 per hour for their time and it may take 15 hours or so to deal with a mere complaint to the EEOC even if they do not get a right to sue letter.
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