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Thread: seperation agreement Maryland

  1. #1
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    Default seperation agreement Maryland

    I was laid off this spring. When I was notified, I was handed a seperation agreement. It said that I would get 2 weeks pay if I agreed to their terms. It said a varierty of things

    1. if i did not sign it with in 7 days I would be terminated for cause. it was in the contract
    2. I cannot say anything negative about the company
    3. I cannot tell anyone about the agreement.

    Can they after the fact fire me for cause for not signing their agreement? If I sent them an email and said "I quit, effective immediately" is that binding? I signed it at the time. Since I wanted the whopping two weeks pay.

    I work in software and in the DC area, virtually every where you work does a background investigation. I would have to explain a termination to an employer. Refusing to agree to a separation agreement, could actually cost me a job. So I would have to come up with a reason. So this concerns me.

    Also about saying negative things about the company. There are 2 issues with this. This is a government contractor. In the past, I have switched companies and ended up helping a new employer bid against a previous employer (they are paying me, so I do what they say).

    If we are bidding on a project and my old company goes "hey we are great at this" and I tell the vendor, no they are lousy at it and let me tell you why. This would not be a non-compete since its a new project. could this be considered breach of contract?

    is it possible for a previous employer to change my reason for leaving from resign/layoff to terminate for cause after the fact? My concern is they could just do it, I won't know about it. I am not sure how I would find out about it. If I did, I'd have to pay to sue them.

    Also, does reporting unethical behavior they did at a federal government site to the federal government considered breech of contract? Since I can't say anything negative about them?

    When I worked there. There was a guy on the team (and we were onsite at the government). Who didn't do any work. He watched videos all day long and talked to his friends on the phone. He was hired because his father worked for the government and project managed another of the companies project. Note, that he was a contractor, so he was paid by the government and then the contract company took a chunk of it. Its not like he was on overhead. The manager lied to cover for him for a while, until the client said to get rid of him. The whole team knew about this and we talked about it in whispers. I was concerned that the government could throw the whole company out and fire all of us if they found out.

    I have thought about reporting them.

  2. #2
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    Default required to turn over work if I'm not paid?

    I have worked as an employee, 1099, and through my S-Corporation. If I am a contractor and work onsite and I am not paid, do I have to turn over work for which I was not paid? The work is for the client. most contracts state you have to turn everything over if you leave.

    is this criminal ? or a civil contractual dispute? The work is for the end client. They pay the contractor. Contractor pays me. Well if they don't pay me. I have had trouble getting paid by dishonest contractors before. Does this vary based on w-2,1099, or s-corp?

    I personally consider my contract in breech if they don't pay. am I correct?

  3. #3
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    Employees do not get 1099s. All workers are either employees or independant contractors (IC). Those are the only two choices. Employees file out a W-4, they get a W-2 at year end, and have taxes withheld from their payments. IC file out a W-9, they get a 1099 at year end, and generally have no taxes withheld from their payments.

    Which are you?
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

  4. #4
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    I can't answer all the other stuff, but I can speak to reporting unethical behavior of a government contractor.

    Read the fine print. Every separation agreement I've ever seen that says something about not maligning the company exempts the reporting of anything illegal. If it's not in the fine print, I would consider it presumed. If a company is receiving federal government funds, and is doing something unethical according to the government contract, then that's also illegal.

    You cans till go to the appropriate OIG in whatever government department you're dealing with and blow the whistle on the former employer.

  5. #5
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    Just to be clear, "unethical" and "illegal" are two very different things. Illegal means that an actual law has been violated. Unethical generally does not have a legal definition and tends to be more of a "in my opinion" sort of thing. While I agree that the law is much more like to protect a whistle blower reporting an actual illegal action, I would not necessarily presume that the same is true for a situation someone deems unethical.
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

  6. #6
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    If you are planning to say anything negative about this employer to anyone, talk with a lawyer first. This is going to be a very fact specific analysis and more likely than not the answer you will get will not be a "yes you can say this" but rather a "no you can not" or "yes you can but be prepared for the following possible consequences". It will be up to you to decide whether or not it is worth it to speak up.

    Reporting someone who just plain is lazy is NOT an example of something that would be legally protected. That is just tattling. He is apparently gone now as are you so I'm not sure what you hope to gain other than spite.

    What you are contractually obligated to turn over and what compensation you are entitled to under a contract is totally a matter of contract law. See a lawyer.

    You signed the separation agreement and sent a resignation email. That is a done deal. Unless the company wants to allow you to recind your resignation, you are no longer employed there. If your options were resign or be terminated for cause, I very much doubt they would accept you recinding your resignation. In any case this was months ago and way to late to play the "what if" game.

    I'm also in the DC area and I can promise you that a layoff, resignation, termination is not the end of all future employment. It just isn't. If you start playing games and bad mouthing your former employer, expect it to be a very long time before you find one willing to overlook that. I don't know that the "cause" was you would be terminated for but your employer can be honest about that. " 2626 resigned after we found evidence of X", is a legal statement and you can not sue them for making it. Your best bet is to be honest. Always.
    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.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by DAW View Post
    Just to be clear, "unethical" and "illegal" are two very different things. Illegal means that an actual law has been violated. Unethical generally does not have a legal definition and tends to be more of a "in my opinion" sort of thing. While I agree that the law is much more like to protect a whistle blower reporting an actual illegal action, I would not necessarily presume that the same is true for a situation someone deems unethical.
    But if you are accepting federal gov money, and you do anything that goes against the contract, that will be defined as a false claim under the federal False Claims Act. False claims are illegal civilly, and many false claims rise to the level of criminally illegal. Not meeting the requirements of the contract, whether purposely or unintentionally means a false claim. Even doing something generally considered unethical, but not necessarily illegal, while taking in government funds, can now be considered a false claim. Federal OIGs are also now finding that providing a product of a lesser quality now constitutes a false claim.

    Most of us under government contracts and receiving government funds have rules we must follow about conflicts of interest and transparency. The OIG might decide that the actions described constitute a conflict of interest, and if a whistleblower reports it "in good faith" they are still considered a whistleblower even if it turns out the actions they report weren't illegal. I would advise anyone attempting to blow the whistle to a federal or state OIG to get legal respresentation first.

  8. #8
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    OP, rather than trying to tell a potential client why your old company is not good at something, you should be focusing on why the new company would be better.

    It is a turn off for many people to hear salespeople belittling the competition while not laying out why they are superior.

  9. #9
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    I got a new job the next day. I was a contractor and with the federal budget cuts what we were doing was eliminated. I am pretty annoyed since I thought this was going to happen, had another job lined up and was lie to to keep from quitting (I should know better, I have been lied to before).

    You are only looking at one part of what I said. My bigger concern was the separation agreement. They told me the following.


    1. I had to sign the separation agreement or I would be fired for cause. Am I allowed to immediately resign?
    2. The separation agreement said that I could sign it and I had 7 days to consult with an attorney on the agreement (like I can afford that if I'm being laid off). If I decided I didn't like the terms, I could escind the agreement, but they would change my resignation to a termination for cause.

    Is that legal? It is 7 days after I left.

    3. The contract had a variety of terms in them which were listed above. Given the statement #2, if I violate them, can the company reserve the right to "CHANGE MY RESIGNATION" to a "TERMINATION FOR CAUSE" AFTER the fact. Possibly years after the fact. The big problem is that I wouldn't find out about it. I would only know if some other employer did a background check and they might think I was lying for my reason for leaving.

    4. The separation agreement says I can't say anything negative about the company ever. The problem here is that a future employer, client, etc... could end up bidding on against them on some future project. I have been involved in bids. They can get ugly. For example, my previous employer could decide to say how horrible I was, etc.. and you don't want me on the new project. Technically it would be a contract violation for me to respond and even say "they are lying". Also, alot of what they claim to be good at, they really aren't. So if I start tell the potential client this or even challenge them could this be construed as a contract violation?
    Could they AFTER THE FACT claim I breached the contract and change my resignation to a termination even if it is years later?

    I ask this because contract companies (particularly government contractors) tend to be sleazy. They don't have any products. Their only intellect property are their contracts. So they will often do or say whatever they need to about anyone to win or keep them. I saw my previous major do this to people who worked for other companies all the time. The project managers from each company were constantly trying to make the others look bad. Those of us just working there would try to keep our heads down because when people got stuck in the middle, they often got fired by the client.

    As far as turning them in. I am a tax payer. I don't want these guys wasting my money. I could not say anything when I worked there. I would get fired immediately. My manager had been their for years. He would know it was me immediately and fire me. The quote we got from one of the guys who talked about it with him was "I would be fired before he was" and this was from the project manager.

  10. #10
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    There is a reason the other responder suggested you take your separation agreement to an attorney for review. You are asking whether items on the agreement are legal, and what they mean. The responders on this site are well versed in employment law, which covers a great deal of situations. However, contract law is above and beyond employment law, and the specifics of your contract are not covered by employment law.

    You would be well advised to bring your separation agreement to an attorney experienced in employment law and have it reviewed and get your questions answered.

  11. #11
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    I again encourage you to see a lawyer. Maryland tends to take a pretty hard line on contracts. If you signed it, it is binding. Regretting having done so after the fact, especially when given time to seek counsel and recind, is not going to be a valid reason to overturn a contract. How you would pay for legal counsel is not the issue.

    The 4th Circuit (which includes MD) has held in any number of cases that you can not sign away your right to file a claim with an administrative agency or governmental entity though you can be barred from profitting from that report. Meaning if there was say a reward involved or damages you could be barred from collecting, but you still retain the right to make the report. BUT and this is a BIG BUT, this only applies to actual legal violations. It does not apply to telling on lazy coworkers, claims that the contractor just isn't very good at what they do, or that you were not treated fairly. Before you even think of reporting or saying anything to anyone about this contractor, you MUST talk to a lawyer.
    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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