The teachers and students in the classroom where Mary Jefferson was a part-time aide regularly used derogatory terms for females, such as bitch, slut and whore. As a result, Jefferson filed a workers' compensation claim, saying the stress was affecting her physically. She also sued, claiming sex discrimination under California law.
When Jefferson settled her workers' comp claim for $49,500, she signed a preprinted agreement releasing her employer from "all" claims. But later, she argued that the form didn't encompass her sex discrimination suit.
A state appeals court threw out her sex-discrimination claim, saying that "all" means "all," even on a preprinted form. In addition, an attachment released Jefferson's co-workers from liability, suggesting the agreement went beyond workers' comp. (Jefferson v. Cal. Dept. of Youth Authority, No. E026915, Cal. CA, 2000)
Advice: When you resolve employment disputes, have the employee sign a global release of all claims. That will protect you from further litigation over the dispute at hand, as well as other claims of which you may not even be aware.
- Think twice before firing employee who needs to take short disability leave
- New risk: Workers can claim retaliation even if there's no adverse job action
- Whoa! Never saw that one coming! You're not responsible for aberrant crime
- Didn't know employee wanted training? Be sure to extend invitation next time
- Disability harassment costs Wall Street firm half million