EEOC Guidance re: Waiver and Release Agreements
Time 2 Minute Read

On July 15, 2009, the EEOC issued guidance entitled "Understanding Waivers of Discrimination Claims in Employee Severance Agreements." In this guidance, the EEOC generally explains the waiver of discrimination claims through release agreements and answers questions employees may have about the effect of those agreements on the filing of charges of discrimination and on severance pay. These questions include the following: "May I still file a charge with the EEOC if I believe I have been discriminated against based on my age, race, sex or disability, even if I signed a waiver releasing my employer from all claims?" and "If I file a charge with the EEOC after signing a waiver, will I have to return my severance pay?"  (The EEOC’s answers to these questions are “yes,” and “no,” respectively.)  The EEOC also explains its position on what constitutes a "knowing and voluntary" waiver under Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Equal Pay Act, and what is required for a waiver to be effective under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. In view of the fact that the EEOC has taken the effort to publish this guidance, and considering that the current administration has served notice that federal agencies like the EEOC will continue to vigorously enforce the nation's labor and employment laws, employers should have their current release agreements reviewed by labor and employment counsel. 


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