Overbroad Release Gets CVS Drug Stores in Trouble

Most employers are aware that the EEOC has strict rules about the rights an employer can ask an employee to release as part of a settlement.  Generally, a release cannot require an employee to give up their right to bring an EEOC claim, or to communicate or cooperate with the EEOC.  CVS drew the EEOC’s attention when it conditioned the payment of severance benefits for certain employees on the execution of an overly broad severance agreement which was five pages long and typed in small print.  The EEOC sued CVS alleging that it unlawfully violated its employees’ right to communicate with the EEOC. http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/2-7-14.cfm

The EEOC press release about this new lawsuit does not indicate whether there are other problems with the language or execution of the severance agreements.  However, the lawsuit is a reminder that employee waivers of discrimination claims must be knowing and voluntary and are evaluated based on the totality of the circumstances.  http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/qanda_severance-agreements.html


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