A separation agreement is a contract between you and your employer that establishes the terms of your termination or lay off. Since a separation agreement is a contract, the same laws that govern all contracts apply.
Employers typically use separation agreements to minimize the risk of potential litigation when terminating or laying of an employee by offering the departing employee money in exchange for a release of liability of all claims related to the employment relationship. Such releases are generally considered valid as long as the employee knowingly and voluntarily agrees to the release.
Many employees sign separation agreements without first reviewing them. Others feel that they have no other option but to sign the separation agreement even if they were subject to discriminatory conduct during their employment. Some employees learn after signing the separation agreement that they were victims of discrimination during their employment and now may not be able to do anything about it.
Prior to signing a separation agreement, you should consult with an attorney to ensure that you understand the rights that you are releasing and whether it is worth releasing those rights based on your employer’s offer. At Sipherd Burke Law, we routinely represent clients with current or potential separation agreements. We similarly negotiate on behalf of employees to obtain better separation agreements, including, but not limited to, increased severance, neutral or favorable reference, confidentiality, and short or long-term medical benefits. Please contact us to learn more about your options.