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Laid off in WA while on STD Washington

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  • Laid off in WA while on STD Washington

    I am in the state of WA and was recently laid off. I was a full-time employee but had been working only part-time and was being covered for the rest of my time under short-term disability. They want me to sign a separation agreement that releases them from all future claims except for those that cannot by law be waived; from what Iíve found online it looks like I am supposed to still receive STD, but will this agreement affect that? Also, if I am supposed to still receive STD (and LTD after the STD runs out), would that only be part-time coverage?

    I'm trying to get answers from HR but so far they've been silent.

  • #2
    You are probably going to need a local attorney to read the actual agreement in it's entirity (plus your STD/LTD paperwork), but I am curious. What is the carrot? What reason do you have for signing the agreement? If no carrot, then why would you even consider signing the agreement?
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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    • #3
      Originally posted by DAW View Post
      You are probably going to need a local attorney to read the actual agreement in it's entirity (plus your STD/LTD paperwork), but I am curious. What is the carrot? What reason do you have for signing the agreement? If no carrot, then why would you even consider signing the agreement?
      They're offering 4 weeks severance. If I can't get the STD at all then the severance will be helpful, if I am eligible for STD/LTD then I'd rather go with that even if that means not getting the severance.

      I tried contacting a local law firm and seeking some free legal advice; the law firm wouldn't even talk to me since I was not suing my former employer, and the free legal advice couldn't answer my questions.

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      • #4
        You might need to pay someone for a consult. If I was you, I would read the STD/LTD documents and I would read the contract. But I am not a contract law attorney. I have read enough contracts over the years that reading one would not bother me. But I also know just enough about the subject to know that it is very state specific, very specific to the exact wording of all documents and beyond my area of hard expertise.

        I worked for several very large employers with in house Legal. I generally knew a lot more about labor law and certain tax law because it was something I dealt with every day. But our in house Legal departments were always contract law attornies. They would generally have some junior person who drew the short straw and would be responsible for labor law, but most of the time me (payroll), the Compensation and Benefits Manager in HR, and Tax Manager in Finance between generally knew (a lot) more about labor law then the Legal department did. Of course, Legal would also have several of the big dog national labor law firms on speed dial, so we could always get answers if we were prepared to pay for them.

        The key is that contract law is very different from labor law. Labor is always imposed by the government on the parties. Meaning it is possible to have a labor law website that gives good answers. But contract law is always, always, always a function of reading all related documents and then see how the exact wording of the documents apply to state law (regulations, court decisions, etc.). All contract law answers are basically "take all documents to a local contract law attorney".
        "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
        Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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        • #5
          Originally posted by galdre View Post
          I'm trying to get answers from HR but so far they've been silent.
          I am not saying that is the case here, but maybe HR does not know. This may sound strange but the person who made the decision to terminate you and offered severance may know little or nothing about these matters. Having been on the employer side of things when the person on your side of things was seeing a vast conspiracy while on the other side of the current it was looking a lot more like a Marx Brothers movie, I am going to suggest that this is at least a possibility.
          "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
          Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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          • #6
            It is extremely unlikely that the loss of your job would affect your eligibility for STD/LTD. Read your contract or call the vendor but typically once you qualify, you continue to be eligible regardless of future employment status. If STD is really just salary continuation by the employer, then you might have an issue but if it is through an insurance company, you should be ok. I've dealt with a lot of plans and none of them terminate coverage if you lose your job. typically you are eligible for STD at the same rate as you were when you terminated employment.

            Severance likewise would have no effect on whether the insurance company will cover you. You wouldn't be waiving your right to insurance, but rather your right to sue your employer for any slights or faults that happened during the course of employment. Some can not be waived, hence the caveat. Offering severance in exchange for a waiver of claims is pretty standard. I would not consider it a red flag. If you planned to sue or file an administrative claim against your employer, I would most certainly pay to speak with a lawyer before signing anything.
            I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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