Call your attorney before offering a severance agreement! A federal trial court in Florida has allowed to go forward a disability discrimination lawsuit from a former employee who left under a negotiated termination agreement largely because the agreement was silent on why the employee was leaving.
Recent case: Ronald Kuczynski, who is HIV positive, left his job as president of Lyra . A severance agreement gave him $170,000 worth of company stock.
Later, he sued, alleging that the company got rid of him because of his HIV-positive status.
The company argued he left pursuant to the agreement. But because the agreement didn’t spell out why he left, the court said a jury should decide whether he was forced out because of his condition. (Kuczynski v. Lyra Management, No. 08-62067, SD FL, 2010)
Final note: An attorney could have suggested language that would have kept this case out of court.
- How to win discrimination lawsuits: Carefully document real performance problems
- When employee sues for discrimination, be prepared to show your processes are solid
- Retaliation doesn't have to be part of original complaint.
- Counseling problem employees: A 4-step discussion plan
- Tell managers: No paternalistic protection allowed