SAN FRANCISCO – A California man’s severance agreement bound him from winning a discrimination case against his former employer in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, according to an April 23 opinion.
The court granted Columbus Manufacturing Inc.'s motion for summary judgment, noting that the severance agreement between it and plaintiff Hakan Kip Kennedy "is valid and enforceable."
Kennedy filed a complaint against his ex-employer Columbus Manufacturing Inc. and the company’s Vice President of Human Resources Andrea Wilson. Kennedy accused Columbus of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.
The district court pointed out Kennedy signed a severance agreement after he was let go from Columbus in 2015 following the facility’s decision to close one of its plants. Under the contract, Kennedy concurred to release “any and all claims arising from or related to [his] employment” with Columbus. Kennedy was given $54,798.04 as part of the severance agreement.
Kennedy filed a lawsuit against Columbus shortly after signing the agreement. The defendants stated that considering terms of the contract, Kennedy was not legally permitted to file the legal claim. The district court agreed and granted the defendants their motion of summary judgment.
The decision states that while Kennedy said no to many offers of a severance package, he agreed to one that included the release of his claims. He was given 45 days to sign the agreement, and he ended up signing after 54 days. He confirmed he received the full payment agreed upon in the severance package, the decision states.
The court concluded the severance agreement and all of its terms are binding as it pointed out Kennedy was not able to prove he signed the agreement “under duress, under influence or fraud.”
The decision was signed by judge Edward M. Chen.