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.