Should I sign a release?
When you lose your job, whether you are fired or because there have been budget cuts and you are let go, you may find yourself in a situation where your ex-employer wants you to sign a release. This document could prevent you from taking any legal action against the firm in the future. You may feel comfortable doing this because you are thinking about your future and what comes next, and that makes sense. You may feel forced to sign in exchange for receiving some money owed to you, maybe back pay or severance pay. You may be upset that you have to sign the release in exchange for the money you believe is legally owed to you and should be given to you with no strings attached.
Think Before Signing
Signing a release is equivalent to giving up your rights. Are you comfortable with this? The word itself means that you are releasing the company where you worked from any legal liability for claims you may file against it. Some forms of release prevent you from suing the company for certain events or issues, while others prevent you from filing any type of claim on any issue.
What caused you to lose your job? Is it something that is brewing in your head, something that needs to be resolved legally? Or are you happy with the way things worked out, with the severance pay you received? For many of these questions, only you have the answer. That’s why it’s so important for you to understand the consequences of signing a release.
What issues should you reflect upon before signing?
Even if you feel pressured to sign, do take a moment to reflect upon issues like these:
Am I getting anything in return for my signature?
Don’t sign in order to get something that you would get according to company policy. If you know that you are entitled to a certain amount of severance pay for the years you worked there, don’t sign in order to receive just that amount. Sign because you have been offered more than the base amount in question, or are receiving some other type of fair exchange. Ideally, you wouldn’t sign anything until talking to a lawyer.
Am I giving anything up in return for my signature?
You know by now that signing means giving up the right to sue. You also know what issues you may or may not want to file a claim for. And you may think you can live without suing because you are getting something in return. However, there may be other lawsuits outside of what you may be contemplating now. What happens if your co-workers bring a collective lawsuit on an issue that happened while you were still employed? Will the fact that you signed a release prevent you from participating in this too?
As you can see, signing or not signing a release is not just a matter of imprinting your signature on a piece of paper or not. The consequences of your decision on this point can have long-term repercussions in your life. That is why it is so important for you to have the advice of an experienced employment attorney. You may be signing away more than you can understand if the form has too much fine print or other points that may not be too clean to you. Get more information here before signing on the dotted line.