In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog

Time for Exit Interviews at Uber?

With litigation pending against Uber over its self-driving technology, a group of its engineers are reportedly headed for the doors.

Recode reports that the company is facing an exodus of key talent. Instead of waiting for a court decision that could terminate their division, the engineers are looking elsewhere.

It is another impending problem for Uber, which is already entangled in various lawsuits and barely able to pay its bills. So what is a company attorney to do when facing critical resignations?

Resignation Process

The smart money says that employers should have a resignation process in place before the inevitable time when employees quit. The procedure should be written in an employee handbook, according to CBS Money Watch.

Among other provisions, the handbook should require employees to submit a formal resignation letter to a supervisor with a copy for human resources. This helps begin the process of removing the worker from payroll and preparing a new job listing.

Ideally, to avoid conflicts with supervisors or other workers who may be affected, a human resources representative should conduct an exit interview. The interviewer should write down the employee's reasons for leaving and any areas of concern.

Along with the resignation letter, exit interview documents should go into the employee's file for future reference. Any proprietary information, such as customer lists, should not be in the file.

Severance Agreements

Among the documents that may go into the file, a severance agreement should be reviewed by counsel. While it may not be the attorney's job to negotiate the terms, it is important to check the agreement for legal issues.

Courts and government agencies are scrutinizing severance agreements, especially to see if they violate public policies. For example, the Securities and Exchange Commission will take action against employers who attempt to prevent workers from disclosing possible securities law violations. Likewise, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will target certain agreements, such as overly broad waivers and settlement provisions that prohibit employees from filing charges or providing information about unlawful discrimination.

In 2014, the EEOC filed suit against Doherty Enterprises Inc. for requiring employees to sign an agreement stating that all employment-related claims would be submitted to arbitration, with no exception for filing EEOC claims. The judge sided with the government in saying the EEOC, on behalf of the employee, did not have to go through arbitration.

Best practices dictate that severance agreements contain a savings clause, which reserves the employee's right to report possible violations of the law.

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