Do I have a leg to stand on if I sue for wrongful termination because I believe that it may have been due to my age?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Do I have a leg to stand on if I sue for wrongful termination because I believe that it may have been due to my age?

So I was laid off about 6 months ago for no apparent reason after 6 years of outstanding performance. I have the reviews to prove it. I have 3 young boys, my wife suffers from depression, and I am the sole bread-winner in the household. Upon termination, I was given 1 month of severance pay as long as I signed an agreement that said I wouldn’t sue them for anything and that I wasn’t signing it under duress. Of course, I needed the money so I signed it assuming they must have been downsizing or something and since I had the least seniority and the highest salary in the department. I am an engineer with 30 years of experience. I figured I was the likely choice to go. Keep in mind, that the company had been sold to

Asked on September 1, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

An agreement to not sue, such as in a separation and release agreement or severance agreement, where you receive severance in exchange for giving up your right to sue, *will* hold up in court: those agreements are perfectly legal, and the law lets people contractually (the agreement is a contract) give up their right to sue or take legal action. You could and should have reviewed the agreement and the situation and whether you might have a claim with an attorney before signing; but having signed, having presumably received the severance, and having waited at least 4 months, it is very likely you will be held to the agreement and be unable to take legal action. Certainly, you should bring the agreement to an employment law attorney to review with you; provide the attorney with all the facts of the situation and the document, and he/she will be able to determine if there is any way around it. But on the face of things, based on what you write, you gave up your right to legal action.

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