The Role of Releases in Class Actions and Collective Waivers
With massive layoffs facing thousands of oil industry workers, many employees will find themselves faced with paperwork from their employer required in order to get their severance. In conjunction with the rise of forced arbitration clauses in consumer contracts, many employee contracts now also force workers to settle disputes through mediation, expressly waiving their constitutional rights to a jury trial and/or class actions.
Workers may choose to seek compensation from an employer for issues ranging from job misclassification and unpaid overtime wages to wrongful termination. While the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the rights of individuals to settle civil disputes before a jury, many employees sign away the right to this process in either an employment agreement or their termination paperwork.
Layoffs and New Positions Bring Contracts to Sign
In the stress of a layoff, workers will need their severance pay and may sign the necessary paperwork without thoroughly reviewing it. No matter how impressive the severance amount may seem, the funds often fall far short of what a worker may rightfully be owed. Many employees end up forever signing away their right to settle a dispute with their former employer through a trial and will be forced to use an arbitration method instead, significantly reducing their chances of success and the amount recovered. Employers understand this possibility, and some will use these mass layoffs as a chance to lure employees into signing away their rights to overtime pay and other benefits.
In a similar way, employees who are anxious to keep their current job or obtain a new position may be eager to sign any paperwork required to appease a potential employer. It is important to review any contracts you sign when entering into a new position or facing a layoff, as the rights you may be signing away could keep you from receiving what you deserve and leave you unable to participate in class actions.
If you have been asked to sign an agreement with your employer to accept a severance amount or a new position, be sure to carefully review every detail. An experienced employment attorney can help you analyze your contract before signing it, to ensure that your rights are protected. Employers are counting on the confusing lingo of contracts to disguise important clauses regarding your rights, but a diligent attorney can spot these issues before you sign your rights away.
Lawyers for Class Actions
The attorneys of Josephson Dunlap LLP have helped thousands of oilfield employees facing difficult workplace situations, and we can help you protect your rights as a worker. Our attorneys are available at any time, so contact us before you sign away your legal rights.