We warned last May about using “last-chance agreements.” We highlighted the case of EEOC v. Cognis Corp.. In that case, plaintiff was a longtime employee who, as a condition of continued employment, was required by the employer to sign a “last-chance” employment agreement, in which he waived his right to file any discrimination charge with the EEOC, even charges based upon acts which had not yet occurred. Plaintiff refused to sign away these statutory rights, and the EEOC alleged that he was fired as a result.
The Court awarded the EEOC a rare summary judgment after finding that the firing constituted unlawful retaliation. The only issue remaining was damages.
The EEOC today just announced that it has, in fact, settled that case for $500,000, and the Court entered a consent decree.
The EEOC Chicago District Director stated that the employer "presented the victims in this case with a terrible, illegal choice: lose your job or lose your civil rights. Under the law, no worker has to make that kind of choice. Employers would be better served by working to ensure that their employees are free from discrimination, rather than threatening their workers with termination in an effort to make sure that employees don’t complain."