Will cashing ck relieve xemployer of bonus earnings

It has been 1yr since I was laid off. I was offered a severance for yrs served, which I accepted the severance for years served, but indicated I could not sign agreement because other bonus earnings were due to me per my letter. In July 2011 I rcvd a letter indicating severance agreement withdrawn/request for managed care bonuses and different ck with an outline of what my boss felt was a fair & reasonable summary of bonuses earned, subtracting paid time off (which is fine)and indicating that our agreement wasn't very clear. He changed/minimized the bonus calculation vs reviewing prior bonus earnings to determine the proper calculation. In addition, he indicates that in 2009, 2010, and 2011 I paid myself unauthorized overtime so in summary he felt "it would" seem reasonable and that in fact I already have been paid for my managed care contracts. (he reviewed payroll records biwkly and was fully aware of the OT I had worked.) He felt my prior severance offer was adequate but now was offering a severance package of ten weeks w/ additional month of benefits stating if I am in agreement let him know so he could update the agreement & finalize the matter.(contradicting the severance withdrawn) Yesterday rcvd a replacement check from his July letter and he sent me an email saying I could go cash it immediately.... If I cash the check, will I be releasing them from approximately $90,000 of bonus earnings.

I sincerely appreciate any legal advice provided, and I am very grateful for you taking time to review the brief summary.


1 answer  |  asked May 16, 2012 02:59 AM [EST]  |  applies to Massachusetts

Answers (1)

Kevin McGann
It sounds like he is giving you a second offer with a second check, and the circumstances sound like he is offering you an agreement, and expecting you to accept it by taking the money.

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.

posted by Kevin McGann  |  May 16, 2012 12:49 PM [EST]

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