How Do I Know if I Have any Claims to Release?
This is really the most basic question in a severance agreement- they are offering you money in exchange for a promise not to sue and release of claims, but what does that mean?
Generally, employment in Massachusetts is "at will," which means you can be fired for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all. The exceptions are if you are terminated because you are in a protected class (discrimination) or because you have engaged in protected activity (retaliation).
Protected classes in Massachusetts include race, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability and military service.
Protected activities include reporting or objecting to discrimination or sexual harassment, asserting rights under the wage and hour laws, taking earned sick time or family medical leave, filing a workers compensation claim, and certain kinds of "whistleblowing" activities.
If you fit into one of these categories, it is possible you have legal claims that you could assert, which should be balanced against what is offered in the severance package. There is no one answer to whether you have claims, which is a good reason to consult an employment lawyer before signing a severance agreement.
Learn more here about evaluating a severance agreement.
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