Can you name all four of the components needed in a separation agreement in order to release federal age discrimination claims?
Courts treat all four of these components as “magic words” that must be written into the agreement. If your agreement lacks one or more of these elements, the release will not be effective for purposes of releasing federal age discrimination claims.
All other types of claims can be waived even without this language. For example, race, sex, and disability discrimination claims arise under Title VII and the ADA, which do not require any magic words in order to effectuate a valid release. Likewise, age claims arising under state law also can be released without use of these four components. The “magic words” requirement comes from the Older Worker Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA), which amended the ADEA. This is the only law that requires these four components for purposes of effectuating a valid release.
There are several other OWBPA concepts worth noting. Even though these are not required to be specifically written into the release, they are principles that courts take seriously, both with respect to waivers of age discrimination claims and releases of other claims as well:
Remember to check state law, too. For example, California has special magic words that should be included in a release. Minnesota has a 15-day revocation period needed to effectuate a valid release of certain state law claims.