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First job of a recent grad: Mutual Separation Agreement vs Performance Review. What do I do?

Chicago, IL |

The company lost a huge account, laid off 100 employees on Tuesday. After 10 months on Wednesday HR called me to the office, the generalist asked if I was interested in signing a mutual separation agreement, or going through a performance review in a month. The company typically does yearly reviews in July, which I never received. I have hundreds of "Thank you, this is GREAT!" emails from my superior (who quit Tuesday), and other co-workers on the documents I've contributed to the team, and overall work. I've been taken off of email chains, not invited to meetings, not updated on anything, and when I ask if there is anyone or anything I can do to help, they say "no". I still have not received the mutual separation document or terms for performance review as promised on Friday to review.

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Attorney answers 2


It sounds as though your job is on the line -- not because of your performance, which appears to be stellar, but because the company is in financial straits. You are being pressured to agree to whatever the company proposes. I suggest you retain counsel to review any proposed agreement and to negotiate on your behalf. Obviously, the ultimatum as to a performance review is highly suggestive of the idea that the review may not turn out to be quite as positive as you would expect.

Good luck to you.

Michael S. Haber is a New York attorney. As such, his responses to posted inquiries, such as the one above, are limited to his understanding of law in the jurisdiction in which he practices and not to any other jurisdiction. In addition, no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to constitute legal advice, nor to constitute the existence of an attorney/client or other contractual or fiduciary relationship, inasmuch as legal advice can only be provided in circumstances in which the attorney is able to ask questions of the person seeking legal advice and to thus gather appropriate information. In addition, an attorney/client relationship is formed only by specific agreement.


Here's some thoughts:
Make copies of everything that says you did a good job.
Get a copy of the employee handbook and any employment agreement you signed.
Is there a non-compete in your employment agreement? If so, get them to waive enforcement in conjunction with your pending layoff.
If there was anything in the past written about severance, get a copy of that. IF other employees got severance take notes on amounts.
Get a copy of your personelle file from human resources.
Follow up your verbal requests for work with an e-mail to the person indicating you asked for work and that you are still available to help in any way possible.
After you talk with someone related to these issues, always go back and write notes of who was there, what was said, and where and when conversation occurred.
Get your resume updated and look for a new job. Illinois is an employment at will state and absent something in writing, you don't have a guarantee of employment.

These are just thoughts off the top of my head and should not be considered individual legal advice or the creation of an attorney-client relationship.

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