Last Chance Agreements can’t release future claims!

I have seen it many times.  Employers of union workers frequently ask the employee to sign a last chance agreement in order to keep their job.  These documents include promises by the employee that he/she will obey all work rules going forward and if they don’t, they’ll be fired.  They also usually include a provision that says that the employee will waive all rights to sue, including for what might happen after they sign.  I’ve always been bothered by those terms since it is the general rule that releases can only release past (i.e., not future) conduct. 

Well the Sixth Circuit (we are in the 2nd Circuit, but this case can be influential for Connecticut employees) has come to the rescue.  As reported by Ellen Simon’s Employee Rights Post, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down that provision of a Last Chance Agreement.  She explains this case very well.  The good news for Connecticut employees is that if they have signed such an agreement and subsequently are fired, they still have the right to sue.  A further takeaway could be that an employer that fires you for not signing such an Agreement could be violating your common law right not to be fired for reasons that violate Public Policy.  Stay tuned!