Why does my company want me to sign a legal document before I receive compensation

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Why does my company want me to sign a legal document before I receive compensation

I was let go after 15yrs of service and am over 60. I feel this is the reason and I was managed to do something and that something go me released.
I have a document that they suggest I have a lawyer look at before they compensate me.

Is this normal?


Asked on June 28, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It's normal--which is to not say that you necessarily should do it, just that it's common.
At over 60, you are in a protected category: employees over 40. If there is no good non-age-related reason for your termination (e.g. document attendence or performance issues; the main project your worked on being terminated or main client whose account you worked on no longer with the company; etc.), you might try to sue them for age-discrimination. You can't fire someone due to age--there has to be some other valid reason. They want to forstall that by making you sign something giving up your right to sue in exchange for compensation. If they gave you the compensation, you would have no reason to sign, so they hold the compensation pending singing. 
If you think you may have a claim against them--e.g. there is no good reason for your termination other than age--consult with an employment law attorney before doing anything: you may wish to not sign, not take the compensation, and sue. But if you don't think age was a factor, or even if it was, you'd rather take the offered compensation then sue, then you can sign and be paid.

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