Accepting early retirement incentive may end lawsuit

Employees who have pending lawsuits against their employers may be among a group of employees who receive early retirement offers that are part of downsizing initiatives. If litigious employees accept such a buyout offer, they may lose their standing in their lawsuits.

Recent case: After Chavtz Seals was hurt on the job, he was out of work for a year. He later sued, claiming the company knew about the faulty equipment that caused his injury.

When he returned to work, the company offered many employees a $70,000 incentive to quit. Seals took the deal. But he pushed on with the lawsuit.

The court dismissed his case, reasoning that the retirement incentive clearly stated that the parties agreed to waive any claims against each other. Since Seals knew that and could have asked for more information but didn’t, the clause applied to him. (Seals v. General Motors Corporation, No. 07-4415, 6th Cir., 2008)