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Employment Law/Separation Agreement and Release


Hi Shirley,

I was employed with a company in Texas for 6 years quickly working my way up with promotions and pay raises and all good performance reviews. Last summer a new manager came in and immediately began restructuring the department. I was demoted and had salary cut even though I was told it wouldn't change. There was also a significant cut in my bonus. Soon after my demotion I was publicly humiliated and constantly subjected to excessive monitoring and other forms of professional defamation such as taking responsibilities away and assigning them to other coworkers, not informed of changes that would affect my duties etc. I'm quite sure they were his efforts in forcing me to resign but when he saw that I wasn't going to quit, I was finally terminated. About 2 years ago a newly hired coworker that took my position after I got promoted began making personal and profressional defamatory remarks about me which she sent to me by text message by mistake. It eventually went to HR but I don't feel they used sufficient discipline in the matter as it did not seem to affect her credibility like that behavior should have. Because of that I developed a mistrust of HR and knew that to file a complaint about my managers harrassment and hostile environment it created, I contacted an attorney to help me prepare a formal complaint to present which would keep me in protected activity. As far as I know this was not known to them. I was not able to complete that action before my termination. I was presented with a Separation Agreement and Release with a 6 week severance to sign in order to sue them. I was told that since I was a protected class - female over 40 - I was given 21 days to accept it and have it reviewed by an attorney if I wished. I took it to have it reviewed by an attorney and a few suggestions were made, increase severance by a small amount, partial bonus and asked that they not give anything negative to prospective employers, only that my position was elminated if they called to confirm my employment and also that they not contest my unemployment claim. At the time of my exit interview I was told the "reason" is that my position was being elimnated and they wanted to bring in someone "higher up" and also that another person from my department would be cut but they would not tell me who it was and I can't be sure that in fact happened. This company has had several lawsuits against them including wage theft and have a history of terminating older female workers.
Since I have not seen this topic addressed, would it be advisable to "counter" their severance offer or should I just accept it the way it was? I do realize that by countering it would mean that I'm rejecting their offer and take it off the table so i could risk losing it but at the same time, I would be open to sue them if I wanted. I'm kind of stuck in my decision. Please do let me know if you need additional information. Thanks

I would trust your legal council.  I also would tell you that you need to make up your mind if you are going to sue or not sue. If you are not going to sue and the seveerence is good you might want to take it. If you are going to sue than you probably do not want to take the severence as it is and maybe not at all. Look at the paperwork, our paperwork says that you cannot sue the company if you except the severence it is in the small print in the agreement. I did not write it , an attorney wrote it.

If you take the severence and sign the agreement you may be siging away your right to sue.

There is such thing as age discrimination, it is not easy to prove, especially if the position is really being eliminated. You will want to talk to your legal council and find out if he thinks you have a case and if so how strong a case is it?


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Shirley McAllister, CPP, PHR


I can answer questions about payroll laws and payroll tax laws and Human Resource laws and agencies. I can answer federal payroll and human resource law questions and most states; I do not have a knowledge of the local taxes for cities and counties within the state. If and when I can I will try and send you the website where you can reference the answer and where you can obtain more information as well as a contact number if needed for that particular agency. Some agencies I have worked with are IRS, Department of Labor (federal and state), Revenue Canada (and provincial governments), Inland Revenue, OSHA (0ccupational Safety and Health Administration); Social Security Administration and National Child Support as well as other agencies in Payroll and Human Resources. Some Laws I am particularly familiar with are FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act), ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act), FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act ) , QDRO's, QMCSO's, and other support orders and garnishments, USERRA (Uniformed Services Employment and Remployment Rights Act,PPA Act (Pension Protection Act of 2006, As well as most other employment type acts. I am also well versed in the Title V Civil Rights Act and the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).


30 years in Payroll and Human Resources

SHRM (Society of Human Resources) APA (American Payroll Association) DOLEA (Department of Labor Employers Association) CPA (Canadian Payroll Association) NAPW (National Association of Professional Women) The Mentoring Network

PHR Certification in Human Resources CPP Certification in Payroll in U.S. Payroll Administrator and Payroll Supervisor certification in Canada

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