April 20, 2007

Compromise Agreements: How bully managers get away with it

Simple story:

- First you made the mistake to raise a legitimate formal complaint against your bully fascist academic line manager. You were naive enough to think that the procedures in your university will work.

- Then you find out that you are accused of something you have never done. In effect, you are mobbed out of your work. The bully fascist academic line manager pulls the strings - he/she suspend you on spurious grounds.

- First you have to fight depression - some never recover, then you decide to fight back. The bully fascist academic line manager tries to dicredit you - your excellent staff appraisals are ignored. Internal procedures resemble a Mickey Mouse - Stalinist court.

- You continue to fight back - the last thing they want is you going to court.

- At some stage they realise they can't get rid of you - they have tried to make you resign - why should you? So now they start offering you money - compensation - they want to buy you out. Remember this is taxpayers' money.

Small problem: The compensation comes in the form of 'confidentiality agreements' and/or 'compromise agreements'. 'We will give you this amount of money BUT first you need to accept and sign a number of clauses!'

Well, we managed to get hold of one of these lovely documents, and here are some extracts:

'...The university will, as compensation for loss of employment but without admission of liability and without prejudice to Clauses XX, XX and XX below, pay to the Employee within fourteen days of the date of this Agreement the sum of £XX.XXX (“the Payment”).

...The Employee shall refrain from instituting or continuing before an employment tribunal any proceedings in respect of any of the Proceedings, and all grievances and disciplinary proceedings will be ceased by both parties.

...The Employee acknowledges that the university is relying on clause XX of this Agreement in deciding to enter into this Agreement. If the Employee breaches any of the warranties set out in clause XX and a judgment or order is made against the university, the Employee acknowledges that the university will have a claim against the Employee for damages of not less than the amount of the judgment or order.

...In the event of the Employee at any time failing to observe the terms of this Agreement or any of his obligations hereunder the Payment shall cease to be payable and the Employee shall upon demand repay the Payment and the university shall be entitled to recover as a debt any monies already paid only to the extent of damages actually suffered.

...The Employee confirms that he will return on or before the Termination Date to the university all equipment, records, correspondence, documents, papers, software, backup tapes, keys (including originals, copies and extracts of any of the foregoing) belonging to the university and any other university property in his possession or subject to his control or responsibility and that the Employee has not retained any copies of the foregoing.

...The Employee undertakes not directly or indirectly to make, publish or communicate any disparaging or derogatory statements whether in writing or otherwise concerning the university or any of its governors, officers, or employees and to maintain, without limit in point of time, confidentiality as to the reasons for which and the terms upon which the Employment was terminated and as to the business affairs of the university and the business and personal affairs of its governors, officers and employees subject only to disclosure for the purpose of obtaining professional advice or if required or permitted by law or to such information being or coming into public domain other than by disclosure by the Employee in breach of the terms of this clause.

...The Employee accepts the payment referred to in the Compromise Agreement as “the Payment” in full and final settlement of all other or any claims costs expenses or rights of action of any kind whether contractual or tortious other than the Proceedings and howsoever arising which he is or might be entitled to make against the university or its governors...

...The Employee agrees to refrain from instituting any proceedings in any Court or tribunal of relevant jurisdiction for any remedy arising from any matter under his contract of employment with the university or any other contract connected with the Employment and made between the parties to this Agreement or the termination of such contracts or arising during or in connection with the Employment or otherwise save for the purpose of enforcing the terms of this Agreement


Anonymous said...

Name and Shame with details please. That's the only way. These mechanisms have failed, the bullies are getting away with their lives, they have stolen our lives and our work, and continue to spread malicious rumours about us to cover their acts. Let us establish a hall of shame and categorize their acts.

Stuart said...

I think confidential settlements are, in almost every instance, a travesty of justice that perpetrates the circumstances that bullying thrives on - secrecy. The only exception is where confidentiality preserves personal dignity.

Between the rock and hard place that we are, unfortunately, a confidential settlement is about the most any of us could hope for. I am intrigued by the concept of entering or negotiating such agreements and then publishing them...

Anonymous said...

These agreements are largely NON-ENFORCEABLE. They are, by themselves, attempts to bully employees into silence and are created to avoid "findings" in courts by "bribing" if you will employees into not taking the matter to the point where a finding is likely.

You cannot have what amounts to a penalty clause in such an agreement. Furthermore, it would cost the employer more, in most instances than it would be worth to enforce. Attempts to pursue employees who have "breached" such unenforceable agreements are rare and not likely to succeed.

Do not sign them, but if you do, you DO NOT have to abide by the gag clause terms, EXCEPT that you cannot say things that are a matter of opinion i.e. slagging off an employer by saying so and so is a wanker or such and such university is a lousy place to work and is full of crooks.

What you CAN say is ANYTHING that is a PROVABLE FACT. So and so University fired me after I reported an act of plagiarism. So and so University had 10 asian employees in their X department in 2001 and now has zero asian employees in their X department. Anything that is an objective fact that has been established or can be easily proven is FAIR GAME. If a Governor flipped you the bird during a grievance hearing, you can say it happened. Such and Such university claims that its first year dropout rate is 5 percent when it is really 40 percent.

These are all examples of things you CAN say. Basically you can say anything that is not false/defamatory, regardless of the impact that it might/might not have. An employer can TRY to sue you for saying these things, but they CANNOT win. And YOU can recover costs if they try and fail.

Joe Walsh said...

I worked with a sales person called Israel Attar many years ago, he not only was a poor performer, he bullied staff and was full of Bull S**t too.

Lying came second nature to him. Soooooo glad we got rid of him.

Did I forget he took all the credit for everyone elses work, snooped through peoples drawers and emails and had no management skills at all?

He would call the boss behind people's backs, not be in the office for days on end, would leave early and not tell anyone.

It took a while for the department to see through him but he was so dis-honest, he tripped himself up.