Does signing a severance document really waive our rights to sue?

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Does signing a severance document really waive our rights to sue?

I was laid off 2 months ago and received a severance package. Basically it stated that we waive “all claims for violation of any law prohibiting discrimination…”And our signing “waives and releases all rights and claims, known and unknown, arising under the Age Discrimination In Employment Act…”The employer has had employee issues for a long time. Many employees laid off were over 40 years old. Currently there is a rumor of a Class Action suit.Does signing really release our rights to sue for anything?Does signing release our right to be involved in a Class Action lawsuit?

Asked on May 13, 2009 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

J.M.A., Member in Good Standing of the Connecticut Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Releases are governed by contract law.  A release is a contract wherby the releasing party (you) agrees to give up certain rights.  Usually, if the release was procured by fraud or misrepresentation, the release can be unenforcable.  However, when you do sign a release, it is enforceable unless it violates some statute or public policy.  I would contact a lawyer and give the release to them to review.  Age discrimination is a violation of law and public policy.  However, just becasue there is a lawsuit going on does not mean that the employer has done anything wrong.  You should also find out the lawyers representing the class action case and show them your release.  You should always be careful when signing releases and severance agreement.  Did you have a lawyer review it first?


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