What’s the Value of my Signature on an Employment Release?

Collectors of sports autographs know the value of signatures. Babe Ruth’s 1919 contract – $996,000. A signed Brian Scalabrine photo – $35.99. But what about your “John Hancock”? Specifically, how do you calculate the situation where your soon to be ex-boss plunks down a wordy document and demands that you sign it immediately? A good—and readily-available—employment lawyer can help you determine the value of your signature on an employment release.

First, what rights are you signing away?  It’s fine to release your employer from liability if there’s no wrong-doing. Most employees are “at-will” which means the employer can fire them for virtually any or no reason. Your boss, however, either by design or accident, might want you to sign an illegally-broad release, e.g., one that seeks waiver of retirement benefits, workers’ compensation claims, or unused vacation pay. It is well worth it to have an employee-friendly lawyer dissect the fine print and counsel you about your rights.

But what if you don’t want to sign? Or, maybe you’ve been offered money as part of the release? That’s where a good employee-side lawyer with courtroom experience really helps. We visualize what filing a civil lawsuit looks like. And while we rarely have most of the facts, we can estimate your odds and the amount of effort it might take to win or lose. We also analyze settlement opportunities and how we might negotiate the most favorable outcome. We may even decide to take your case to trial.

Of all the lawyer-labels, one we proudly wear is counselor. If you are a recently-separated employee seeking counsel about signing a release, you want to know that you have explored all options and can sue if necessary. That, in turn, gives you power and the confidence to move on with your life.