Q. I am terminating employees in three states. Is it OK for me to use my standard separation agreement in all three states?
A. While you are on the right track by using separation agreements to obtain releases of legal claims, take care to ensure the release of claims is actually enforceable.
While every state allows employees to release legal claims in exchange for a payment or other consideration, many states have specific requirements for effective releases. Federal law also requires different release provisions depending upon the age and number of employees involved.
For example, to release claims under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, in most situations the agreement must provide a 15-day period in which the employee can rescind the release of those claims.
Among other requirements, federal law requires that workers over age 40 be given 21 days to consider whether to release age discrimination claims.
All of these requirements can change over time because of court decisions or legislative acts.
Because of these variations, using a standard form agreement across multiple states can create problems. Each agreement should be tailored to the state in which the employee works and the age of the employee(s) involved.
Check your separation agreement with an attorney who knows the laws in the states you are doing business in.