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  • Severence, Lunch & Ex-emplyee Rights Maryland

    My former employer gave me 2 options after having a dispute with my supervisor:

    1) Go to another company of his and join a union and work.

    or

    2) Take a month severence and what ever vacation time I had left andcall it quits.

    I choose #2, They presented me with a release agreement that would give all my rights as an ex-employee. I'm notwilling to sign it in the least, to protect myself.

    Now on top of all this they included the last of my time on my severence check so I won't get that unless I sign this agreement. What can I do about this problem since it's all on the same check?

    Here is where it gets intresting, the dispute I had with my supervisor was over uninterrruppted lunch breaks and overtime. I know maryland does not require employers to give lunch breaks. So if a customer came in while we were eating we had to stop and take care of them. Is the employer requiered to pay for this poor attempt of giving a lunch break. I know all my time cards state I was there for 8 1/2 hours. And it was the luck of the draw on whether or not I got to eat an entire lunch uninterrruppted by phone or supervisor.


    Overtime ended up becoming comp-time. So if there were only 2 employees working at the time and one needed off, the other one was required to work a 10 1/2 hour day. Is the employer allowed to put this time towards vacation or sick leave instead of paying time and 1/2.

    I guess here is the real question should I try to bring legal action against them for not paying for the extra 1/2 hourfor 5 years or should I just try to get them to revise the release agreement to not take away my ex-employee rights just to get this over and done with?
    Last edited by examp; 09-29-2007, 04:12 PM. Reason: Noticed this was suppose to have a question with it.

  • #2
    Originally posted by examp View Post
    So if there were only 2 employees working at the time and one needed off, the other one was required to work a 10 1/2 hour day. Is the employer allowed to put this time towards vacation or sick leave instead of paying time and 1/2.
    Not legal. You should have been paid time and a half for each hour worked over 40 in each and every work week.

    The Federal Department of Labor will only go back two (or maybe, three) years in a wage claim. I have no idea if an employment lawyer could get you more, but, since laws do not require employers to keep time sheets for four years, it might be difficult to prove your claim going that far back.
    Senior Professional in Human Resources and Certified Staffing Professional with over 30 years experience. Any advice provided is based upon experience and education, but does not constitute legal advice.

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    • #3
      We kept a time sign in sheets for the first couple years I was there then they got a stand alone time clock. Plus when I started we worked 9 hour days, then it went to 8 solid hours days, and then finally 8 1/2 hour days. Thats when they changed hours of operation to 6:30am to 5:00pm. I know they have all the documentation going all the way back to then.

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      • #4
        Yes, file a wage claim. But, I don't understand why you accepted option 2, but didn't expect to sign an agreement.
        Please no private messages about your situation.

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        • #5
          Never had severence offered to me before. Is there anyway of getting around the agreement they present and get it to read equally favorable to both parties?
          Last edited by examp; 09-29-2007, 05:49 PM. Reason: misspelled word

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          • #6
            Originally posted by examp View Post
            Never had severence offered to me before. Is there anyway of getting around the agreement they present and get it to read equally favorable to both parties?
            Okay. What "rights" does an ex-employee have? What "rights" do you believe that you're giving up, by signing the release?
            Please no private messages about your situation.

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            • #7
              Scott - the agree. prob. reads that OP won't take any action (ie file a wage claim) against the co. if OP signs it. If she signs it, could she not put in a wage claim even though it was illegal not to pay the overtime? Should she talk to an employment lawyer? You're more experienced in this than me. Thanks. Betty
              Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

              Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

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              • #8
                If I sign the release agreement I'm giving up any claim. If I claim unemployment they can deny me that because of the release agreement, because it's a claim against the company. Without saying it was because of insubordination even though it was a legal complaint. Even if a medical problem occurs that was from being in the employment of the company I'm S.O.L.
                Last edited by examp; 09-29-2007, 11:43 PM. Reason: misspelled word/typo

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by ScottB View Post
                  Not legal. You should have been paid time and a half for each hour worked over 40 in each and every work week.

                  The Federal Department of Labor will only go back two (or maybe, three) years in a wage claim. I have no idea if an employment lawyer could get you more, but, since laws do not require employers to keep time sheets for four years, it might be difficult to prove your claim going that far back.
                  They keep records for 7 years at this company.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by examp View Post
                    If I sign the release agreement I'm giving up any claim. If I claim unemployment they can deny me that because of the release agreement, because it's a claim against the company. Without saying it was because of insubordination even though it was a legal complaint. Even if a medical problem occurs that was from being in the employment of the company I'm S.O.L.
                    Not true. UI benefits aren't determined by your company; they are determined by the UI board. Also, since you're resigning, it is less likely that you'd qualify for UI anyway. Also, since severance pay counts as income, you wouldn't even be eligible until that is completely paid out.

                    Same with WC. They cannot enforce a contract that is illegal. It is illegal for them to attempt to deny you UI or WC, so those claims are not being protected by signing the form.
                    Please no private messages about your situation.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by moburkes View Post
                      They cannot enforce a contract that is illegal. It is illegal for them to attempt to deny you UI or WC, so those claims are not being protected by signing the form.
                      I agree. Any clause in an agreement that states you give up your rights to file a UI claim would be unenforceable. What they're trying to get at is for you not to sue them.
                      I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Pattymd View Post
                        I agree. Any clause in an agreement that states you give up your rights to file a UI claim would be unenforceable. What they're trying to get at is for you not to sue them.

                        The same is applicable under the FLSA, an agreement would be unenforceable if goes contrary to FLSA requirements.
                        ========================================

                        "A veteran - whether active duty, retired, national guard, or reserve - is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to The 'United States of America', for an amount of 'up to and including my life.'" (Author unknown)

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                        • #13
                          Thanks - that's what I wanted to be sure of - re the wage claim if they signed the form.
                          Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

                          Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

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                          • #14
                            The 4th circuit is fairly conservative in these kinds of agreements. While you can sign away your right to recover monetary damages or awards that result from reporting illegal activity, you can not sign away your right to file a complaint. There were just 2 cases within the past year that reinforced this but Im working from memory here and the only one that is coming to my sleep deprived brain is Taylor v. Progressive Energy, though that one was dealing with FMLA, not FLSA. The other case was an EEOC case but the reasoning applied beyond just discrimination claims. If I recall the actual case, I'll post it. It was in Montgomery County MD if you really want to search for it.
                            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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                            • #15
                              So even if the release agreement says I release them from all liabilties and claims, I can still file for UI and WC with ouyt any trouble from the company. But what about filing a wage claim for working 8 and 1/2 hours verse 8 hours? If you find that case I would really like to read it!

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