I was offered servant pay after 13 1/2 years working for Walmart will I still be able to collect from my un employment is it a good idea to sign the package

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1 answer  |  asked Jan 18, 2016 01:20 AM [EST]  |  applies to California

Answers (1)

Marilynn Mika Spencer
No one can tell you if it's a good idea to sign the package without knowing details of your employment. The severance agreement will contain a waiver of all claims, which means that if you sign it, you are agreeing to never sue the employer or to file an administrative claim against the employer, even if you later find out the employer did something against the law that harmed you. Most severance agreements also include a requirement that the employee keep all the terms completely confidential, and that the employee never apply to work for the employer or any of its related companies ever again. Also, these agreements usually require that the employee never say anything bad about the employer.

It is worrying that you are leaving this job after so many years. Anyone who knows about this is going to wonder why you're leaving. That's the first question that popped into my mind.

If you are absolutely certain that you were not treated in an illegal manner (no discrimination, unpaid wages, etc.) then it MIGHT be okay to sign it because you are not giving up any rights . . . BUT without reading the agreement WalMart wants you to sign, and without knowing what your employment circumstances are, no one can tell you if it's a good idea to sign or not. No one on this forum knows what you are giving up by signing, and we don't know how much money the employer is offering you in exchange.

Is the employer also agreeing not to say bad things about you? Probably not. What will happen when a potential employer contacts WalMart for a reference?

Does the agreement allow you to speak to your legal and tax advisors, and your spouse or immediate family? You certaibly need to speak to someone about taxes if there is substantial money involved. And how realistic is it for you to never, ever, say anything at all about the agreement to your wifre/husband/domestic partner/parents/whomever?

Plus, consider how difficult it will be to find another job after so long with this employer. Why did your employment end? Were you fired? Laid off? How will it look to a potential employer that you are out of work at this time? Does the agreement say that you resigned? That will be a red flag to a potential employer because in this economy, no one quits a job before they have another one, especially not after 13 years.

Also, if WalMart is offering you substantial money, why? No law requires it to do so. It is likely trying to buy your silence about something it doesn't want to get out, or maybe it knows it violated your legal rights and is trying to get out of the situation cheaply.

With respect to your question about unemployment benefits, it is illegal for an employer in California to require an employee to sign away (waive) rights to unemployment benefits or to workers' compensation.

There are so very many things to consider. The only way to get a meaningful answer to your question asking if it's a good idea to sign is to consult with an attorney about it. The attorney will need to know what claims you might have in order to know what you are giving up, and and the attorney needs to read all the terms of the agreement.

For this type of assistance, you can expect to pay hourly. Plaintiffs employment attorneys in California charge anywhere from $250 to $750 an hour depending on many factors including experience, area of law, geographic location, work load, interest in the case, difficulty of the case and more. You should expect to need at least three hours for this kind of consultation.

Also, understand that many terms in a severance agreement are negotiable. It is more likely an attorney can negotiate terms than that an employee can.

To find a plaintiffs employment attorney in California, please go to the web site of the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA). CELA is the largest and most influential bar association in the state for attorneys who represent working people. The web site is www.cela.org. Click on "Find a CELA Member" and you can search by location and practice area. Many CELA attorneys represent clients throughout the state.

I hope there is a good resolution to this situation.

posted by Marilynn Mika Spencer  |  Jan 18, 2016 01:42 AM [EST]

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