If my wife was fired today after filing a sexual harassment claim and is being sent a check forseverance, can she cash this check without jeopardizing her claim?

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If my wife was fired today after filing a sexual harassment claim and is being sent a check forseverance, can she cash this check without jeopardizing her claim?

She filed a complaint with the police regarding sexual harassment and we are meeting an attorney next week for a civil claim. The check is for 2 weeks severance pay.

Asked on December 3, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Do not cash the check before you speak with the attorney. Depending on any agreements, correspondence, etc. between your wife and the company, it's possible that the check could be seen as a settlement; i.e. that she was paid this amount in exchange for giving up her legal claims. That does not have to be the case--for example, if under either an employment contract or the usual policies of the employer, she would entitled to the amount of severance she received no matter what (e.g., the employee handbooks states terminated employees get 1 week/year of service; and she received 1 week/year of service); however, since you're meeting with an attorney in a week anyway, why take a chance? Don't do anything with the check until the meeting.


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