Does Your Severance Agreement Include Discriminatory Practices?

If you’re getting ready to reduce your workforce, or have recently been laid off, it’s time to have a lawyer review your severance agreement. Many employers provide severance to laid off employees, often in exchange for agreeing not to bring certain claims against the employer.

State laws and severance agreements

Depending on the laws in your state, there may be specific requirements and restrictions in severance agreements. Oregon, for example, recently expanded their Workplace Fairness Act. The law prohibits severance agreements from including a non-disclosure or non-disparagement provision which prevents the employee from discussing certain types of workplace discrimination. They also may not include a no-rehire provision, unless the employee requests it. Finally, if an employee includes the provisions, they have seven days after signing to revoke the agreement.

The new expansion also prohibits employers from including confidentiality agreements regarding the fact or amount of any discrimination settlement. Employers are also no longer allowed to make a settlement offer conditional upon an employee “electing” to include any of the aforementioned restricted provisions. The employer must provide the employee with a copy of their anti-discrimination policy, and employees have a right of private action. All restricted provisions agreed to in violation of the Workplace Fairness Act are considered void.

Oregon isn’t the only state with these kind of laws: Minnesota gives employees 15 days to revoke a severance agreement if it contains a claims waiver, while Illinois prevents employers from including provisions prohibiting employees from talking about unlawful employment practices.

Therefore, it’s crucial that you know your state laws and take the appropriate actions. Our firm has successfully increased severance for several clients, recently, thanks to improper severance agreements and discriminatory employer practices. A knowledgeable whistleblower attorney at Kardell Law Group can review your severance agreement when you schedule a consultation today.