I was just let go, and the company is offering me severance only if I sign a document they put in front of me. Should I do this?
The document is a “full and final release” of the company for all liabilities.
This is a common tactic used by employers. Effectively, your employer is asking you to sign away any legal claims you may have against them in exchange for your severance package. The law refers to this type of document as a release. And while you may be tempted to sign it and take the offer, it’s very important to look before you leap.
Read through the document carefully. Depending on the terms of the release, by signing it you may be waiving your right to bring:
a bullying or harassment complaint
a human rights complaint
a claim for outstanding wages owing to you
a claim for more severance pay
You’ll need to decide whether the dollar value of the offer is worth giving up these rights. Don’t rush the decision, and ask your employer for some time to think it over. They can’t force you to sign it. Generally, these agreements are binding once you sign (assuming you didn’t sign under duress).
Consider getting some legal advice. A lawyer will be able to tell you if the severance offer is appropriate. As well, they can examine the release and explain the legal consequences of signing. For more, check out this webinar clip and this guidance on how much notice or severance you may be entitled to.