ASK THE LAWYER By: Daniel A. Gwinn, Esq.
QUESTION: I am being laid off from my job. My employer presented me with a separation agreement. I’m worried about signing it because it appears very one-sided. The separation agreement says I may consult an attorney. What kind of help can I expect from seeing a lawyer before I sign on the dotted line?
ANSWER: A separation agreement is a legally binding contract. Seeking the assistance of a lawyer before signing it can help you in several ways. The separation agreement has been purposely drafted in your soon-to-be-ex-employer’s favor. Your employer is presenting you with the separation agreement to protect its legal rights, not yours.
Separation agreements commonly require you to release the employer from any and all causes of liability from employment discrimination claims. Employers also commonly include language preventing you from reapplying for employment. Some separation agreements may also allow the Employer to be relieved of any obligation to provide you with a job reference, which may hinder you in your search for a new job. The amount of money, or consideration, offered in exchange for your signature may be inadequate, based on the circumstances of your termination, and may include factors such as your salary, age, race, gender, sexual orientation, and disability status.
Know before you sign is the best course of action to follow. A good lawyer will explain the terms of the separation agreement to you in simple terms. A lawyer may advise you that you have a meritorious claim worth more than is being offered. He or she may be able to negotiate better terms, including more severance compensation, a positive letter of reference, an agreement not to contest your eligibility for unemployment benefits, and assistance in finding a new job. See a lawyer and “get peace of mind before you sign.”
The lawyers at GWINN TAURIAINEN PLLC are experienced attorneys and are happy to answer your questions. Give us a call for a free initial telephone consultation about your legal needs. For consideration of your questions in our web column, please submit your inquiry on the “Contact Us” page of our website at www.gwinntauriainenlaw.com.
ASK THE LAWYER
By: Daniel A. Gwinn, Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
GWINN TAURIAINEN PLLC
901 Wilshire Drive, Suite 550
Troy, MI 48084
(248) 247-3310 facsimile