Should I sign separation agreement?

I have been laid of from my job as Regional Operations manager on 10/26 under a work force reduction effort. The company went through a change in CEO’s 2 month ago. I reported directly to the former CEO until 9/17. I have received an excellent performance review by the former CEO with a 4 out of 5 rating, with 5 being the best rating 2 month ago, together with a 3 raise. I am now without health insurance.I was laid off together with 5 other employees, all over 40 years of age to reduce the workforce from 350 to 345 employees, of which an estimated 60% are over 40 years of age. I did nothing wrong. Performed my job well, no sick days, no missed days or coming in late. Should I sign the separation agreement with an offer of 1 month pay or is there a possible claim for age discrimination?

Asked on November 1, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Maryland

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

There is a possible claim for age discrimination, but based on what you write, it is not a very strong one. You indicate that 60% of the company are over 40 years of age; with that high a percentage of older employees, it is not particularly unlikely or indefensible that the 5 who were laid off--5 out of 345, or around 1.5% of the company--might be older. While statistically one would have expected 2 of the 5 of you to be under 40 (i.e. 40% of those laid off, to reflect the percent of those in the company age 39 and younger), it's not an unreasonable stretch that depending on what other criteria were involved (e.g. function or job titles or duties; department(s); etc.) that all 5, instead of 3 of 5, would be 40 or older. Had the company been majority under 40, you'd have a much stronger claim; but with majority being over 40, what you describe does not particularly show discrimination.


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