Best Wrongful Termination Attorney Answer: If my job offers me a severance package should I take it? Can I still sue my employer for discrimination if I accepted a severance package? Should I sign documents given to me when I’m terminated? How do I find an employment attorney?
Imagine you’ve just received alarming news: You are being terminated. A thousand thoughts rush into your mind, “why is this happening?”; “what am I going to do?”; “how can I pay my bills?”; “what if I can’t find another job?”; “will I get unemployment?”; “how much unemployment will I get?”; “what about my health insurance?”
Amidst the swirl of thoughts and anxiety you hear the words, “We are offering you a severance package.” It is not uncommon for employers to offer recently terminated employees promises of additional benefits, a few months or more of salary or wages, or other subsidies. At first glance, it seems like a good deal, while searching for new job or deciding on the next path in your career you still have the financial resources to stay afloat. But what some employees don’t realize is that employers don’t usually provide a severance out the goodness of their hearts, usually the employee is expected to give something up in exchange for the package: namely, the right to pursue any claims of harassment, discrimination, or retaliation against the employer. Signing your name to documents given to you at termination may cost you the ability to recover a settlement or jury award if your termination is based on your age, gender, race, religion, or other types of protected activity like filing a worker’s compensation claim or reporting illegal activity or safety violations on the job.
An overriding goal by employers is to offer a little something now in a time of need before a fired employee can consult with an employment law attorney to see if he or she has a wrongful termination claim. But, employees have a right to contact an employment attorney. Indeed, most severance agreements contain the language expressly stating that the employee was given the opportunity to have a lawyer review the agreement. We have blogged about severance agreements before.
In a recently filed case, (EEOC v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc. Civil Action No. 14 C 0863) the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or EEOC, is seeking to end the practice of requiring employees to sign overly broad severance agreements that prevent the employee from communicating with the EEOC about potential harassment or discrimination. The EEOC claims that CVS established a pattern or practice of resistance to the rights contained in federal statutes by using severance agreements that were five pages long, and filled with small print. The EEOC claims that the small print contained language that interfered with an employee’s right to even communicate with the EEOC.
This lawsuit will have larger ramifications than just requiring one large chain of drugstores to stop using these types of severance agreements. If the EEOC prevails in their suit, many employers will have to revisit the language contained in severance agreements including provisions like a general release, requiring employees to waive any claims against their employer, a covenant not to sue, or a confidentiality provision which prevents the employee from speaking about the agreement or the issues related to their termination.
Although the EEOC’s case is in the beginning stages, and no final word has been passed down from the courts, it is important to remember that the best thing you can do upon receiving paperwork at your termination is to have an attorney review the documents before you sign. As this case progresses the Attorneys at the Spitz Law Firm will continue to monitor the progress and the potential impact on Ohio law.
If you have been wrongfully fired or terminated; discriminated against based on your race, national origin, gender, age, religion or disability; or even think that you might need an employment lawyer, then it would be best to call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040. The Spitz Law Firm and its attorneys are experienced and dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and solving employment disputes.
The materials available at the top of this page and at this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking, “How do I …”, “What should I do …,” “My boss discriminated against me because …” or “I was fired for …”, it would be best for to contact an Ohio attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular employment law issue or problem. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of The Spitz Law Firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.