Employer Mediation Agreements May Be Grounds For Additional Relief
I recently came across a sexual harassment case involving a multi-international company who does business in Illinois. The Illinois employee was required to sign various documents as part of the employment process, including a document whereby the employee was giving up her rights to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and instead agreeing to go through mediation with some third party. Of course the employee did not have an opportunity to negotiate this issue and in fact it was a "take it" or "leave it" approach by the company. Either sign all the documents in front of you or work somewhere else.
I believe this policy is unconstitutional, in clear violation of both state and federal law and may afford employees of this company additional causes of action against the corporation including fraud, violation of 740 ILCS 23 the Illinois Civil Rights Act of 2003, and violation of the Human Rights Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 among others.
For example in Illinois the five elements of fraud are:
1. A material misrepresentation of a presently exisiting or past fact;
2. Knowledge by the defendant of its falsity or a reckless disregard as to whether it is true or false;
3. Intention that the other person rely on the statement;
4. Justifiable or reasonable reliance thereon by the other person; and
5. Resulting damage.
Clearly, subjecting an employee to sign away his/her rights is a misrepresentation and against the public policy of Illinois. If you have been forced to sign such an agreement you may have a remedy against your employer.