Severance Agreements Can Affect an Employee’s Rights

The first, and perhaps most obvious, one of the variables is whether or not the employee has waived his or her rights. It is a fairly common practice for employers who are terminating their relationship with their employees to offer severance payments in exchange for the employee signing a severance agreement.

Severance payments are payments of monies that are different from wages that were earned by the employee. Employees facing financial uncertainty and the prospect of being unemployed are happy to accept these severance offers to help bridge the gap between jobs. In the vast and overwhelming majority of terminations, particularly those where no foul play is suspected, it is advantageous to the employee to sign a severance agreement and receive a severance payment.

A problem may arise, however, when an employee who has been terminated for illegal reasons unwittingly gives up his or her right to pursue claims against the employer by signing a severance agreement. Practically all severance agreements will include a general release and waiver of all of the employee’s rights to pursue any and all claims against the employer. Once an employee gives up his or her rights, then he or she no longer has any right to pursue them.

Statutes of Limitations Can Limit an Employee’s Rights

The second factor to consider is the passage of time. More specifically, it is important to know how much time has passed since the employee was fired from his or her job. The reason for this is that there are time deadlines that apply to practically all of the different kinds of claims that an employee may have the right to bring against his or her former employer or coworkers.

Statutes of limitation limit the amount of time that the owner of a claim has to make a claim.

“One purpose is to give defendants reasonable repose, thereby protecting parties from defending stale claims, where factual obscurity through the loss of time, memory or supporting documentation may present unfair handicaps. A statute of limitations also stimulates plaintiffs to pursue their claims diligently. A countervailing factor, of course, is the policy favoring disposition of cases on the merits rather than on procedural grounds.” California-American Water Co. v. Marina Coast Water Dist. (2022) 86 Cal.App.5th 1272, 1302–1303.

Sometimes people who lose their jobs are more concerned about finding another job instead of protecting their rights to pursue claims against their former employer. One thing leads to another, life goes on, and the employee who has been let go for unlawful reasons wants the issue of a potential lawsuit on the back burner. If that employee has no desire to pursue any claims, then there isn’t a problem. A problem arises, however, when an employee finally gets around to pursuing the case and it is too late for them to do so because they have waited too long, and the statute of limitations has expired. For this reason, it is important to promptly prosecute claims if there is ever any intention to do so.

Contact Akopyan Law Firm, A.P.C. for Advice about Wrongful Termination

Seeking answers after being terminated? Contact a skilled wrongful termination attorney now. Here at Akopyan Law Firm, A.P.C., we’ll provide a complimentary evaluation and may offer contingency fee services. Trust the experts at Akopyan Law Firm, A.P.C. for proven results and positive testimonials.