If you are fired, your employer might offer you a severance package. But they are not doing it just to be kind. They’re willing to give you a few weeks or months’ pay in exchange for a promise from you: a legally binding agreement not to sue. This is called a release. Before signing a release, the law allows you to do two simple but very important things. First, take a few days or a week to think about it and talk it over with your family. Do not sign it on the spot. Any employer who pressures you to do so is violating the law. Second, consult with an attorney about whether you have a possible lawsuit and, if so, whether you are getting sufficient severance pay to make it worth waiving your claim. Anything less renders the release unknowing, involuntary, and void.
10/21/10 – Tom McKinney