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Settling a case? Make sure it spells out specifics if worker will stay employed

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Sometimes, the best thing to do is to settle an employee’s discrimination complaint. That’s especially true if you believe the employee may have a case and deserves a second chance. However, you don’t want the settlement to come back to bite you.

That’s why it’s important—especially if the employee is going to remain employed—to spell out the settlement details, including whether the employee will be free to apply for transfers or promotions or must accept a specific assignment.

Recent case: Ned Cameron, who is black, worked as an Ohio probation officer in Columbus. He alleged that his employer had treated him unfairly, and he filed a discrimination complaint. The parties agreed to settle the case, and Cameron said he would voluntarily transfer to Dayton. Then, when things didn’t go well in Dayton, he claimed he had been forced to transfer as punishment for the first complaint.

The court threw out his case, pointing to the specifics of the settlement agreement. It clearly showed that he had agreed to the move. (Cameron v. State of Ohio, No. 2:06-CV-871, SD OH, 2008)

Final note: Always have your attorney draft your settlements.

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