Can an employer require me to sign a wavier or liability as a condition of employment?

Asked over 2 years ago - Rochester, NY

My future employer is requiring a wavier or liability as a condition of employment. The agreement specifically states I "release, discharge and promise not to sue" the company and/or partners for any activity in which I get injuried/killed while in their employ. It furthermore states that I release "from any claim [the company] in such that the [company] are or may be negligent in connection with [the activity]." It notes at the bottom that this is a "promise not to sue and to release and indemnify"

This is an internship in equine veterinary medicine. I understand the inherent risks in working with the animals. However, I am hesitant to surrender rights to sue should the company be negligent and cause an injury.

Is this a legally enforcable document? Would it hold up in court?

Additional information

The document also states that if I did sue, I would pay "all attorney's fees and costs incurred by the Company in defending such an action."

This is a "matched" internship position in that I was offered the position about 2 months ago. They are just now sending me the contract and this wavier was included. It is a one-year position. I have little to no negotiating leverage with the company. However, since the "match" is completed they would have difficulty replacing me at this point.

I'm hesitant to rock the boat, but I am also uncomfortable surrendering my rights to sue should they do something negligent that causes me injury. The document appears to greatly overstep reasonable legal bounds to me ...

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Jeffrey Bruce Gold

    Contributor Level 19


    Lawyers agree


    Answered . You really aren't giving up much. In New York, you don't have the right to sue an employer, as injury or death that happens while you're working is covered by worker's compensation. Moreover, to the limited extent that you can sue an employer i.e. for intentional conduct, such a waiver would likely be deemed ineffective.

    Before signing, you may wish to confirm that you'll be covered under the worker's compensation policy, and if so, then I don't think you should worry about it.

  2. Arthur H. Forman


    Contributor Level 17


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . It sounds like the waiver that ski areas have on the back of their tickets. But you cannot sue your employer anyway, other than through workers' comp. You might want to consult an attorney who can talk to their lawyer about slightly modifying the language.

  3. Darren Harrel Fairlie

    Contributor Level 11


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . A local long time doctor around here, on the verge of retirement no less, got kicked and killed by a horse. It's inherently dangerous, and you understand that already. Horse pucky happens. However, if your employer is "grossly negligent" under the law or does something intentional to harm you, you can sue them despite the release. Although you should always have an attorney review a contract before you sign it (ounce of prevention vs. a pound of cure), these are the types of documents one would expect you to sign in these situations.

    This response does not create an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to provide legal advice for your... more

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