Q. We are entering into a settlement agreement with a former employee with whom we have had lots of issues over 10 years. We want assurances that he will not come back with any further claims. Can a single release cover every type of legal claim?
A. A release can cover nearly every type of legal claim, but there are some claims that cannot be released. For example, any agreement by an employee to waive their rights to unemployment benefits is void under Minnesota Statute §268.192. The decision whether an employee qualifies for benefits is not one that can be negotiated between the employer and employee. Even if the employer does not dispute an employee’s right to benefits, in Minnesota it is unlawful for an employer to negotiate any type of arrangement in return for an agreement not to contest payment of unemployment benefits.
Another claim for which it is more difficult to obtain a release is a workers’ compensation claim. With limited exceptions, settlements aren’t binding unless approved by a workers’ compensation judge.
While it is not possible to obtain a release of future workers’ comp claims, the agreement could include an acknowledgment that the former employee is not aware of any workplace injury or illness that he incurred before leaving your company.