Don’t Settle for the Minimum When Signing a Release

Many employees are hesitant to sign employment releases, often with good reason.  Employers may offer very little, knowing that most employees are happy to take what they can get and fear that a refusal will get them a lengthy legal battle or nothing at all.
The statutory minimum for severance in Ontario has been widely scrutinized for being too low, and recently the courts penalized an employer for making a practice of offering the “bare minimum”.
Applying this ruling to releases, you would expect meager offers to be treated with equal discontent.  Unfortunately, as Daniel Lublin points out in a recent Metro article, this is not always the case.
Ten Spanish workers at Global Egg Corp. were offered a small amount of additional severance in exchange for signing a release that prevented them from taking legal action.  They signed the forms after being given one week to have a translator and lawyers look over them.  Regretting this decision, they approached the Human Rights Tribunal, but their case was dismissed at a preliminary hearing.
There is a gap between what employees are entitled to and what they deserve and often get in practice.  Because employers can “justify” paying out less, employees are often misinformed about what to accept.
Ensure that you negotiate the price for your silence beforehand.  Choose your lawyer wisely, and don’t settle for less than you deserve.