William Schmalz entered into an employment contract with Hardy Salt Company. The contract granted Schmalz six months’ severance pay for involuntary termination but none for voluntary separation or termination for cause. Schmalz was asked to resign from his employment. He was informed that if he did not resign, he would be fired for alleged misconduct. When Schmalz turned in his letter of resignation, he signed a release prohibiting him from suing his former employer as a consequence of his employment. Schmalz consulted an attorney before signing the release and upon signing it received $4,583 (one month’s salary) in consideration. Schmalz now sues his former employer for the severance pay, claiming that he signed the release under duress. Is Schmalz correct in his assertion?
An individual with business experience who knows the essence of what they sign and who has obtained the advice of a lawyer, does not assert coercion. For those who have genuinely been robbed of their free will, the argument of duress is reserved.
In this case, with full knowledge of its consequences, Individual S signed the release, approved the wage payment, and did not repudiate it until much later. A ratification of the release constitutes certain variables.
The case of duress is filed when a person comes into any contract through force and not by will.
Here, Individual W signed the documents after due consideration and affirming through an attorney, hence, no case of force was liable on the individual making the assertion void and unreasonable.
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