Labor Court: Signing a Waiver Does Not Exclude Suing Later for Contractual Rights

An employee is entitled to sue for various benefits resulting from an employment agreement, even if the worker signed a waiver stating that he had no further claims.

The National Labor Court ruled recently in the case of an employee who signed such a waiver.

The ruling stated that since the employee received an increased severance package and signed such a waiver, he could not sue for additional benefits not included in the original contract ? but the employee could sue for all the other conditions listed in the employment agreement in spite of having signed the waiver.

The case involved dates back to 1995, when the Shekem firm signed a collective agreement with the Histadrut Labor Federation determing the various severance and pension agreement for hundreds of workers who were losing their jobs at the company due to efficiency measures and a recovery plan.

According to the agreement, workers who lost their jobs before the end of 1997 would receive enlarged severance payments of 142.5 percent of the regular, legally required amount.

Nevertheless, according to the collective agreement, the right to improved severance conditions was conditional on the signing of a waiver by each employee.

The waiver stated that by accepting the increased severance package, the worker waived his rights to any other claims from the firm ? and if the worker refused to sign the waiver, then he did not receive the enlarged package.

In the case in question, Sabina Carlingo, a Shekem employee at the time who signed such a waiver, decided nonetheless to sue the company in the Labor Court.

She claimed that the calculation of benefits due to her should have included various sums in addition to her regular salary, such as payment for overtime, telephone expenses and transportation expenses.

Shekem argued that the case should be dismissed as the waiver required employees not to sue.

The judges ruled that the amounts paid to Carlingo were higher than those required by law.

They also ruled that the requirement to sign the waiver did not violate her rights as an employee and was not forced on her; as a result the judges decided that Carlingo had signed the waiver with the full understanding of its implications in order to receive the increased payments.

Nevertheless, the court ruled that Carlingo was entitled to sue for those rights that were part of her original employment agreement during the period when she worked for Shekem.