City Requires Fired Employees to Drop Complaints to Receive Severance

Tallahassee Reports has learned that the City of Tallahassee is requiring fired employees not to pursue past or current employment complaints to receive severance benefits.

Sources have told TR that a number of city employees were fired late last week. So far, the City of Tallahassee has provided no information about the firings through the city’s communications department.

TR has obtained a copy of the “Severance Agreement & General Release” document provided to the fired employees.

The agreement provides severance pay and health benefits for a period of time after the employees separation date. However, the agreement requires the fired employees to agree not to pursue any actions against the City of Tallahassee.

The language states the former employee does:

hereby release and forever discharge the City of Tallahassee and its past, present and future agents, insures, officers, directors, administrators, employees, commissioners, attorneys…or others who may be claimed to be liable through them, from any and all claims, demands, damages, actions, causes of actions or suits of any kind or nature whatsover…

The agreement drafted by the city also states:

I …further agree to not file or pursue, a grievance or appeal under the City of Tallahassee’s Policy and Procedures Manual or any action in any administrative, state or federal court or agency regarding any claims that I may have or had pertaining to my employment prior to the signing of this General Release..

TR is aware of a number of employees that were fired last week and who have also previously filed an employment grievance with the City of Tallahassee. For these employees to receive severance benefits, they would have to agree not to pursue their grievance.

A local employment attorney told TR that while it is not abnormal for an entity to require certain conditions to receive severance, the fact that the city’s actions are impacting employees that filed complaints against the City of Tallahassee raises questions about motives.

“Is the city firing employees who having damning information against city practices?”, asked the attorney who preferred to remain anonymous.

At the city’s budget workshop last week, city staff said that 47 positions would be eliminated through retirement, attrition, and some layoffs. However, it is not clear if the recent firings were part of the strategy discussed at the workshop.

TR has requested additional information from the City of Tallahassee.

15 Responses to "City Requires Fired Employees to Drop Complaints to Receive Severance"

  1. Tina   July 23, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    I before E except after C and sometimes W.

  2. Herbert Gardner   July 23, 2017 at 3:19 pm

    Pretty standard practice. That’s the way many private businesses handle terminations. Sorry. No news here.

    • James   July 23, 2017 at 6:01 pm

      This isn’t private business so that is a poor analogy. Litigating inappropriate government action may be what is required to shed light on questionable governmental activities!

      • From the cheap seats   July 23, 2017 at 8:34 pm

        This action doesn’t prevent continued litigation. Just don’t expect to be paid anything more than required by policy.

    • Bruce   July 23, 2017 at 8:06 pm

      No, it’s not standard practice. It could be considered as retaliation or discrimination. Given the corruption and concurrent FBI investigation, this reeks of sending a message to others. Be quiet or be fired.

  3. Richard   July 23, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    Is this the ultimate “CYA” by a weak organization?

  4. Dr Erwin Jackson   July 23, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    I know one employee who did not want to do specific work for the city because of concern for his personal safety. His supervisor agreed about the danger but upper management said do it or find another job. This is an employee who has spent almost his entire life working for the city. I know the work required and I can assure you I would have never put my life in such danger. Even worse this city employee received no special training, equipment or emergency equipment during the required work. Guess what, he was one of the individuals who was fired. City wanted him gone one way or the other. This man needs legal help! Those who ordered him into harms way while enjoying the safety of city hall should be held accountable!

  5. Franklin Thompson   July 23, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    Might be some demographics problems…either way.

  6. Mike   July 24, 2017 at 9:04 am

    Perhaps city officials are trying to prevent another Mark DeCarlo, the disabled former fireman who was fired after he “stepped forward as a whistleblower” for leaky hoses and faulty equipment at several Tallahassee Fire Dept. stations, in addition to complaints about the Fire Dept’s “spending practices”.
    After his firing, DeCarlo sued the city – a federal jury agreed with DeCarlo and awarded him $1.34 million. ( WCTV report July 13, 2016 ).

    If a former employee’s complaint has no real merit or verifiable substance, then it’s unlikely to cause any serious repercussion after it’s heard out.
    But those pesky whistleblowers – you have to do all kinds of preventive paperwork to keep them from making trouble!

    However, now with the FBI in town and seriously upsetting the local applecart, perhaps some recently fired former COT employees might have some interested ears in whatever they observed or had complaints about.

    • fsud   July 25, 2017 at 7:59 am

      That’s an ignorant blanket statement. Trust me this is NOT the case for all who were so ungraciously let go. In some cases they were let go after continually trying to do the right thing and continually getting their hands slapped for doing so.
      @Mike you may have hit the nail on the head.

  7. R B   July 24, 2017 at 11:53 am

    Most government agencies need a RIF (reduction in force) now and then as the tenancy is to hire many to do the job of a few ,so no pity from me! Now go out and find a real job that you have to actually work at, and , good luck !

    • fsud   July 25, 2017 at 7:57 am

      That’s an ignorant blanket statement. Trust me this is NOT the case for all who were so ungraciously let go. In some cases they were let go after continually trying to do the right thing and continually getting their hands slapped for doing so.

  8. Andy Martin   August 1, 2017 at 8:39 am

    As long as liberals control government you will see lying, cheating and stealing. All liberals are Liars.

  9. Toby   August 2, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    Once again for it to be news you might want to receive the additional information before you write the article. Otherwise it’s just innuendo.

  10. WhoskeyTangoFoxtrot   August 2, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    It would be very informative to know how many of the fired employees had pending or past complaints against the city.


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