The Law Office of Kevin S. Sullivan represents employees and employers in employment matters before the Labor Board and also in superior court in San Francisco, San Mateo, Marin, Alameda, Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties.
The main things you want to see in a settlement agreement or severance agreement in California are:
1. A clear statement in the first paragraph of the agreement about what compensation is being provided and the manner in which it will be paid (ex. lump sum v. payment plan);
2. A clear and detailed release including but not limited to all claims arising out of or related to the employment relationship between employer and employee. You want to include a laundry list of common law and statutory claims (ex. Labor Code, etc.) that the employee is relinquishing. The release is important because one main purpose of a settlement is to avoid further litigation of employment claims for wrongful termination, harassment, discrimination and unpaid wages to name a few;
3. You also want to include a release of unknown claims under Civil Code section 1542 (quote the specific language of the code section word for word) and include an acknowledgment from the employee that they have read and understand the nature, scope and consequences of executing the agreement and the provision and that they have had a chance to talk to their lawyer about the consequences of signing the agreement;
4. A provision that no promise or agreement other than what is in the settlement agreement has been made and that the agreement is the full agreement of the parties;
5. A confidentiality provision with a liquidated damages clause to discourage the employee from telling other friends who may be employees about the settlement in a way which may encourage them to make claims. You want to silence any talk by the employee about the settlement;
6. If an age discrimination claim is being waived as part of the lease then the settlement agreement should have the proper 21 day review period language as well as the seven day revocation period language along with clear guidelines for how and where to send notice of revocation of the agreement.
These are some common things we like to include in settlement agreements and severance agreements.
If you are an employer or employee faced with a labor board hearing or superior court lawsuit regarding unpaid wages, overtime, meal and rest period violations, sexual harassment, discrimination and other claims please call the Law Office of Kevin S. Sullivan to discuss your case immediately.