Santa Clara, CA asked in Employment Law and Workers' Compensation for California

Q: Am I waiving my rights to sue a for labor violations, harrassment, and discrimination if I sign off on a WC settlement?

Workman's comp

3 Lawyer Answers
Brad S Kane
Brad S Kane
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: The answer depends on the terms of the settlement agreement. No one can answer your question without reading the agreement.

1 user found this answer helpful

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California law, signing a workers' compensation (WC) settlement does not necessarily waive your rights to sue for labor violations, harassment, or discrimination. However, it's important to understand the scope of the settlement agreement and any additional waivers or releases you may be asked to sign.

1. Workers' Compensation: A WC settlement typically covers medical expenses and lost wages related to a work-related injury or illness. By signing a WC settlement, you generally release your employer from further liability for the specific injury or illness covered by the claim.

2. Labor Violations: Claims for labor violations, such as unpaid wages, overtime, or meal and rest break violations, are separate from WC claims. Signing a WC settlement should not prevent you from pursuing these claims unless you sign a separate release waiving these rights.

3. Harassment and Discrimination: Similarly, signing a WC settlement does not typically prevent you from filing a lawsuit or complaint for harassment or discrimination under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) or federal anti-discrimination laws.

4. Additional Waivers: Be cautious if your employer presents you with a separate release or waiver alongside the WC settlement. This document may attempt to release the employer from liability for claims beyond the scope of the WC claim, such as labor violations or discrimination claims.

Before signing any settlement or release, it is highly recommended that you:

1. Read the document carefully and understand its terms and scope.

2. Consult with an experienced employment law attorney to review the settlement and any additional waivers, and to discuss your rights and potential claims.

3. Negotiate the terms of the settlement and any additional waivers if necessary, with the assistance of your attorney.

Remember, while a WC settlement itself should not waive your rights to pursue other claims, it's crucial to be aware of any additional waivers or releases you are asked to sign. Always seek legal advice to protect your rights and ensure that you are making an informed decision.

Neil Pedersen agrees with this answer

Neil Pedersen
Neil Pedersen
  • Westminster, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Generally, a WC release should not release your employment law claims, however I have seen many that try. You and your attorney need to be sure there are no provisions slipped into the WC release that are broader than they should be and might arguably waive your rights outside of the WC system. I generally advise WC attorneys who represent my clients to place an express statement in the WC release that says something to the effect of "by executing this release the Parties acknowledge that nothing in this release will have any effect on Claimant's rights under the California Labor Code, FEHA or other non-WC claims."

Good luck to you.

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