Layoffs, Voluntary Separation, Severance, Waiver of Rights

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Layoffs, Voluntary Separation, Severance, Waiver of Rights

I have worked at a major publishing for more than 30 years. Recently, the company brought in turnaround consultants who apparently have recommended huge layoffs. On Friday the company announced a voluntary separation offer under which employees could be voluntarily laid off under the current severance policy which, by the way, was changed last year just before a previous round of layoffs with substantially reduced payouts over the historical severance policy that had been in place for many years. The memo announcing the voluntary separation plan implied that there would be layoffs after the offer expired and that the severance provided then would be reduced even further, though it gave no details. We have until noon Wednesday to decide if we want to apply for this separation deal. This gives us 3 business days to decide on something that may affect the rest of our lives. Im 65 and would prefer not to retire yet, but I sense that I may be among the first people targeted in the post-voluntary separation layoffs. Hence Im leaning toward taking the offer. Still, Im not sure, and I feel like the company is putting undue pressure on us to make a quick decision without our having time to weigh the implications fully. Those of us who take the deal will be expected to sign a general release, which I understand will waive certain legal rights, though I havent seen the language of the release. What do you think? Is there anything wrong here I should be aware of? Should I be skeptical of this offer? Should I balk at signing the release? Am I in any way protected against age discrimination at 65, or am I out of the protected category? Are there additional things the company should disclose? Any other things I should know? I can provide the text of the announcement of the separation program if you need it.

Asked on July 31, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You are protected against age discrimination, but that only protects you if the reason for your termination from employment is partially or wholly based on your age. If this is a bona fide reduction in force or layoff, and people younger than 40 as well as over 40 are being let go, it is highly unlikely that you could establish a discrimination claim.
While you will be waiving (giving up) rights if you take the voluntary separation, unless there is provable discrimination and/or a violation of a written employment contract (if you have one), the company could let you go without paying you any compensation or severance. Hence, if the package is reasonably generous, you may wish to think carefully about taking it.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption