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Signing Your Life Away With an Age Discrimination Waiver

Seniors and older workers are protected by law from being terminated solely for being older members of the work force. Obviously, in cases where the safety of the public or an individual is at stake, employers do have the right to relieve aged workers from their responsibilities if they are able to find other positions for them within the company. Should this not prove feasible, the employer will need to make every effort to provide aides and assistance to the older worker so as to satisfy the requirements of the law.

Yet did you know that you can literally sign away your life? The famous case captioned Blakeney v. Lomas Information Systems, Inc. (5th Cir. 1995) 65 F3d 482, 484 shows that it is possible for companies to require employees to sign waivers of their legal rights, usually in exchange for generous severance packages, which will then leave the employees unable to later on sue in an effort to reverse their decision and once again regain their former positions – or a position comparable to the one they held – with a company.

At this point in time this is rarely done, usually only at a time when mass layoffs loom large in the business’ immediate future and the management is seeking for ways to reduce the workforce to such an extent as to lessen the impact on as many workers as possible. By encouraging older workers to accept an early retirement from the company or to simply be “bought out” with a financially generous package is one way of accomplishing this feat.

Yet when there are no pension benefits and the severance package eventually runs out, the elderly worker will realize that their odds of getting hired by another company are slim. Granted, while there is no overt discrimination, the fact that young bucks are snatching up the positions that the older worker may covet – they are usually willing to accept less salary in an effort to get started in their careers – can reasonably lead to the elder generation’s inability to make ends meet. The next question to ask will also have to deal with the legality of demanding someone to sign an agreement that waives a right which will directly affect the person’s ability to earn a living.

Thus, before you sign your life away, think long and hard about the long term ramifications that your signature on the agreement may have – you might be doing great financially right now, but what if the severance pay is not enough in the longer term?

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