I accepted a negotiated severance settlement agreement through email, I have not received the settlement paperwork to sign, nor have I heard from the employer. Can they change or withdraw the offer if I accepted it through email?

I was terminated from my job with no prior write ups of poor performance issues ever being brought to my attention prior to the termination. I reported to the VP one month earlier that I had been sexually harassed by my immediate supervisor. I was offered a severance agreement which I countered. I agreed through email, and since than I have no thread or received anything else from the employer.

2 answers  |  asked Oct 2, 2015 12:33 PM [EST]  |  applies to California

Answers (2)

Marilynn Mika Spencer
One more thing: An attorney may be able to negotiate that the employer pay his or her fees instead of you. The employer would be required to pay reasonable attorney's fees if the case went to court and you prevailed, per law.

posted by Marilynn Mika Spencer  |  Oct 14, 2015 12:00 AM [EST]
Marilynn Mika Spencer
It depends on how closely the e-mail communications mirror the requirements to form a contract. That means an attorney would have to review the specific language used by both sides to answer your question.

It is generally to your advantage to have an attorney review the entire situation – the facts of the sexual harassment, the response of management, and more – because it is unlikely an employer would voluntarily pay an employee the full value of the case without an attorney involved. In 25 years of practicing law in this area, I have never once seen that happen.

Also, if this does end up in a settlement agreement, the specific language used in any settlement agreement can be highly significant and can affect your future employment. An attorney can negotiate language that protects you instead of protected the company. Employers always tell employees that their settlement agreements are "standard" or "all the same," but that is never true. There is no such thing as a "standard" settlement agreement.

Finally, why are you leaving the company? Is that a condition of the severance? Losing one's job may be one of the most valuable aspects of any kind of settlement. I worry you have given too much to the employer.

posted by Marilynn Mika Spencer  |  Oct 13, 2015 11:51 PM [EST]

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