Separation Agreement

I was recently terminated due to a merger. I am 44 years old and was emplyed for 13y 9m. I have been offered a Special Seperation Plan (SSP) (ERISA plan - 10 pages); an addedum to the SSP providing ADEA info (4 pages)and a Settlement Agreement & Release (SRA).

Questions: 1) The SSP allows for a claim process if I am not reciving benefits as outlined in the plan, but the Settlement Agreement has me releasing all known & unknown claims. If I sign the SRA, can I still use the claim process in the SSP if the company does not provide benefits as outlined in the SSP? I asked the question but the company wont answer.

2)I signed a retention bonus to stay through the merger and up to my termination. They are witholding payment of the 2nd half of the retention until I sign the SRA. Can they do that as I have fulfilled all the requirements per the retention agreement? Can I make a wage claim and recieve a waiting time penalty?

3)The SSP provides for a "minimum 30 days advance written notice of termination". They offer 30 days pay in lieu of notice. Verbally, this was done. The only written notification I recieve was when I was presented the SSP and SRA which was the Monday prior to my last day on Friday. Do I have a right to 30 days pay in lieu of notice?

4)For the 6 months prior to the merger, I reported to the interm CEO. The CEO, VP Finance, & VP Sales resigned or retired. The SSP clearly provides "that the CEO's direct reports will recieve 52 weeks of salary". The company told me that this does not apply to me as not the "spirit" in which they wrote the agreement and it was ment to apply to only the direct reports of the orginal CEO. Do I qualify for benefits as a direct report of the CEO? I have comapny org. charts, announcements, and e-mails from the intermin CEO that claerly outline that I reported to him.

5) I move my family from NC to CA approximatly 6 months prior to the announcement of the merger. If I had known that the merger was eminent I would not have moved my family if told about the merger. As part of the inducement to move to California I recieved an interest free loan to assist in a house purchase, and a 4,3,2,1 interest rate buydown. The promissary note I signed for the loan basically forgives it if I terminated without cause (which I was). Now the company is making the forgiveness of the loan contingent on signing the SRA. Can they do that since I already have a signed promissary note?

Also, the buydown will be eliminated as part of signing the SRA. Again, can they do that since that was part of the reason I took the job?

I feel that I am only trying to get what the company promised, and no am being pressured to sign away my rights. Help?

2 answers  |  asked Sep 23, 2003 2:34 PM [EST]  |  applies to California

Answers (2)

Joan Herrington
Severence & Release

I concur with Kerry Gough that you need an attorney to review the exact language of the contract. There are enough red flags here (possible breach of contract, possible Relocation Statute violation, and possible disparate treatment to warrant paying an experienced employment law attorney to review it for you. For example, California courts are suspicious of severence agreements that include a releases of all known and unknown claims. Such agreements have held to evidence the employer's consciousness of wrongdoing. Even if you have already signed the agreement, under ADEA, you may still have the right to revoke your consent if your revocation period has not yet run.

posted by Joan Herrington  |  Sep 23, 2003 6:21 PM [EST]
kerry gough
Sep[aration Agreement

In order to provide you with answers to your questions, it would be necessary to examine each of the documents referenced in your inquiries. It would be hazardous and not fair to you or any attorney giving advise to provide answers without examining the documsnts in question. Kerry Gough

posted by kerry gough  |  Sep 23, 2003 4:18 PM [EST]

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