BEWARE OF THIS SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT ERROR
A manager at the National Institute of Health filed an EEO complainant alleging that she had been subject to gender and national origin harassment. The agency offered to settle the dispute by giving her $90,000 in return for her resignation. She accepted and then the agency took advantage of her.
On June 20, 2012 attorneys for both sides reached an oral agreement on the terms of that settlement. On July 26, 2012 the agency attorney informed the employee’s attorney that the deal needed to be approved by a three-person panel. The employee submitted her resignation on July 27 and it was effective on July 28, 2012. No one in management stopped her from resigning nor even told her that the deal was only tentative pending panel approval.
With her resignation in hand and final, the agency apparently lost interest in holding up its part of the deal. The panel never approved the $90,000 payment. The employee asked the EEOC to enforce the settlement, but the Commission refused. It noted that the employee had an attorney and that attorney was clearly informed before she resigned.
The lesson here is to get those settlements in writing before you withdraw anything or act upon the deal. Moreover, insist that the manager who signs the deal confirms in writing that he has full and unreviewable authority to make the deal. See Complainant v. Sebilius, DHHS (NIH), EEOC No. 0120130925 (February 14, 2014)
Check out these other FEDSMILL posts about settlements: