In a recently-decided case that sheds some helpful light on how an employer can use a release of claims to protect itself from unwanted litigation, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has ruled that a plaintiff knowingly and voluntarily waived his right to pursue age and disability discrimination claims under Ohio law despite the agreement’s inclusion of broadly worded language that could be read to encompass claims that were not waivable.

The plaintiff in Hank v. Great Lakes Construction Co., No. 19-11624 (6th Cir. Oct. 18, 2019), argued that the waiver he signed was so broad that it covered claims that were non-waivable, thus rendering the entire agreement unenforceable. The appeals court concluded, however, that his lawsuit contained claims that were in fact waivable, observing that a “general release is not void on its face; rather, its enforceability depends on the claim that is to be released.”

A copy of the Sixth Circuit’s decision in Hank v. Great Lakes Construction Co. is available here.

Members of the Center for Workplace Compliance (CWC) can read more here.