What can be done if your employer pressures you into signing a resignation letter so that it doesn’t have to pay you unemployment?

I am a full-time employee and recently asked my employer if I could go to part-time (so I could take off 1/2 Thurs to go to school). They declined my request and drew up 2 letters of resignation for me. They asked me 6 times in 2 days to please sign the letter. I did not want to but was pressured into it and believe I may have missed something or somehow cheated myself when signing this. Can they force me to sign a letter of resignation that they drew up for me so that they do not “let me go” to ensure I can’t collect unemployment? They did this to another employee before I started working here

Asked on July 28, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

They did not "force" you to sign the letter, unless they threatened you in some way--with being blacklisted in your industry, with not receiving a benefit you are entitled to, with disclosure of personal information, etc. And, if they did that, they committed actionable--potentially criminally actionable, as well as civilly--offenses. However, if all they did was apply "moral pressure" or keep suggesting, that is not being forced to sign. From a legal point of view, you signed of your own free will and therefore are accountable for the consequences, including not being eligible for unemployment. Even if they offered you some extra compensation to sign, that's not being foreced to accept it. (If you were lied to in some way about what you'd get, that might constitute fraud and be actionable, however.)

In the future, it doesn't matter how much someone nags, cajoles, requests, even harranges, you--if you choose to do something, you are accountable for the choice.


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