My Employer Wants Me to Sign a Release. Should I Sign?

Before you sign a release, you should have an experienced employment discrimination lawyer review it. It is crucial to have an employment discrimination lawyer review the document before you sign and return it to your employer. The attorney should be able to explain all the terms in plain English to you and help you weigh the risks of agreeing to the terms. This is especially important because courts may enforce the terms of the agreement even if the person did not read the agreement in full when they signed it. And, because employers often include liquidated damages clauses for breach of the agreement. Liquidated damages are fixed amounts of money set by contract for breach of all or part of the contract. When an employee breaches the agreement, the employer can take the agreement with them to court and get the liquidated damages clause enforced. That may result in garnishment of your wages or bank accounts.

Know the difference between a General Release and a Specific or Limited Release. Rarely do employers want to pay you money in exchange for releasing them from some, but not all kinds of liability. This kind of agreement is called a Specific or Limited Release. More often, employers will want you to sign a General Release. This kind of release typically covers all claims. The agreement can include terms such that the General Release covers all claims known or unknown, for a set period of time, or forever into the future.

Contract terms that are typically found in an employment release. There are clauses typical to releases that an employer will want an employee to sign. These clauses include Cooperation clauses where the employee agrees to cooperate with any investigation or lawsuit the employer may be involved in; No Re-Hire clauses which bar or even penalize the employee for applying for or interviewing with the employer or an affiliate in the future; Non-Compete and Non-Solicitation clauses which penalize the employee for working for a competitor for a set of time or within a geographic region, or prohibit the employee from taking clients with them to a new employer. There are also Trade Secret and Confidentiality clauses which prohibit the employee from discussing or sharing proprietary or confidential information obtained during employment; as well as Disparagement clauses which prohibit the employee from saying anything “disparaging” about the employer to others.

Please call or e-mail us to speak with an attorney if your employer has presented you with a release to sign.

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