If I was laid off 3 months before I qualified for retirement, doI have any rights?

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If I was laid off 3 months before I qualified for retirement, doI have any rights?

I was layed off after 16 years. In order to receive severance pay I had to sign a contract that I would not come back on my employer for any reason. Later while signing up for COBRA, I found that I did not qualify for retirement because I was layed off 3 months before my 55th birthday which is the age stated for retirement benefits. I need to be covered by retirement for insurance purposes. Is there anything that I do? I was not given a reason so lay off other than lack of work.

Asked on April 19, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You should speak to an employment lawyer immediately. Age discrimination in employment is illegal, and that includes laying off an older (over 40) employee in order to replace him or her with a younger, less highly compensated one, or to avoid paying out certain benefits. Certainly, older employees can be laid off for valid reasons--and the company not having enough work is a valid reason--but your case raises enough questions that it's well worth the consultation; for example, even if there is a lack of work, were only older employees, not younger, ones let go? If there is discrimination, you may be able to force rehiring (despite the severance agreement) or receive other compensation (e.g. the insurance you seek).


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