Answers Posted By Kevin McGann
Understand, nobody owes you a severance agreement. It is a private deal between you and the company: they give you money, and in return you agree not to sue them etc. You don't have to take it. You can add language of your own, too.
In this situation, it is up to you what kind of a deal you think you can bargain for. With these extra expectations they have, you can "charge" them for more money in severance or put a limit on time involved, so they don't abuse your help. After all, they must have discharged you because they didn't need you.
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This is not how a severance agreement works. First, you and he agree on a writing which describes all (legal rights) that you are giving up, and all money and benefits he is giving you in return. When you have that writing, and IF you agree with or accept it, then you both sign it. Then you get the money stated in the agreement. This is a very clear step-by-step routine which protects everyone. You should follow this routine carefully.
By giving you the check with some proposed agreement and encouraging you to cash it, he is not following this procedure and thereby blurring what the deal is, and how the deal gets "accepted" by you. If you take the money, it "looks like" you accepted the deal, and gives him an argument that you agreed to it. I would not do that if you think you deserve more, and can get it.
Legally, you cannot give away your rights without a written agreement that you both agree to, by signing it, so you are not bound to anything if you haven't yet done that. On the other hand, you don't have any right to take (and keep!) money from someone who sends it with an unsigned agreement, which you aren't going to sign.
So put the check in a safe place and you decide, first, whether you accept the agreement, or you want more money. If you want more, ask for it, and get it in writing, in the agreement. Then he signs it; then you sign it; then he gives you the money.
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If you intend to use the agreement as part of a suit for breaking the agreement, then the agreement is a necessary part of the suit, and would not be excluded as evidence.
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It also sounds like you have a union contract which has some terms in it about a 40 hour week. Your union rep or union lawyer can look into that. Sorry, but I can't interpret what your Union contract says, and its up to the union to enforce it.
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The term "harassment" in the employment context usually is connected to sexual harassment. There is no employment law preventing manager from being nasty to employees, unless it is on account of race, creed, etc.
You can legally be fired from a job just because they do not like you.
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The real issue is your "status". Are you an employee or an "independent contractor"? There are about 12 conditions to satisfy to be an independent contractor.
I assume that you are actually an employee, and you get paid by the haircut. This probably works fine if you only have to be there for scheduled work (haircuts), and therefore presumably by dividing the number of hours you work into the total amount you get paid, you would make more than the minimum wage per hour.
But if you are forced to stay at the salon -- stay at work -- and that math (above) comes out to less than $8 an hour, you may have an issue. If you are an employee and make less than the minimum wage per hour -- and if there are no exceptions for your industry -- you should have a further conversation with an attorney or public legal services.
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