I was supposedly “downsized,” but found out I was replaced. Any recourse?

Question: I was recently laid off due to what they said was a downsizing. I have found out they have moved someone into my position from another department, and this person makes a lot less than me.

He is even sitting at my desk!! I was one of the top sales representatives in the western region, and he is signing his emails with the same title!!

It seems they just wanted to get rid of my higher salary. Do I have any recourse?

A Little Curious, a Little Furious
Van Nuys, California

Answer: The answer to “Do I have any recourse?” has several answers:

1. Generally, no, if you signed a “release of claims” (usually found in a severance or separation agreement), because by that you agreed not to sue in the future, but . . .
2. Possibly, yes, if you were lied to by your HR representative or boss about your job being eliminated before you signed your “release of claims,” because that is called “fraudulent inducement to enter into an agreement,” and . . .
3. Probably, yes, if you learned about your replacement after you left and signed your “release of claims,” because that may have been hidden from you, and . . .
4. Yes, if you still have time to “rescind” your “release of claims,” for which you are usually given seven (7) days to change your mind, also . . .
5. Potentially, if you can show by some email, letter or document that your replacement was hired after you left, because this would represent a “new” claim that did not exist at the time you “released” all of your claims against your employer, and . . .
6. Absolutely, if you were “tricked” by misinformation into leaving and/or signing a release, also . . .
7. Quite possibly, if you went to court, you might be asked to first return any severance monies you accepted in the past, but . . .
8. 100%, yes, if you are willing to write a letter to the Company’s CEO, or perhaps members of its Board of Directors, telling them what happened, and noting that you (a) were a top sales rep, and (b) would rather work than sue. As I always say, “Hey, it’s a free country; that’s why my mother came here!”

Too many alternatives? That’s what happens when you ask a lawyer an open question. Just kidding. The truth is that most people have many alternative paths to “recourse,” as you seem to, as well.

The way I see it, you have many available avenues of recourse, and they’re limited only by your situation, your imagination, and your tenacity. Now . . . just do it.

Best, Al Sklover

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What Your Employer Does NOT Want You to Know
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© 2009 Alan L. Sklover. Commercial uses prohibited. All rights reserved and strictly enforced.

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