Welcome Message

Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno -- One for all, all for one

Welcome To Our Workers Rights Mutual Support Community Web Site
(Formerly Known As "The Intel Eliminati" - TIE)

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Next Chapter in the Idiot Government Saga


These are the names of  members of the Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying who have been named as defendants in a recent law suit filed by MATS JÄRLSTRÖM.

As we previously reported,  a guild of individuals, protecting their turf with the anachronistic cover of Oregon State government, has been caught in a ridiculous overreach of authority (see previous articles: Idiot Government Oregon State Idea of Engineering Is Not Keeping Up With The Times and Idiot Government - Revisited).

Mr. Jarlstrom who had the best interests of serving the public by communicating his technical feedback to Oregon State government, regarding deficiencies in traffic light operations, was fined $500 by the  Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying by referring to himself using the word "engineer" in his letter.

Mr. Jarlstrom did not take this ridiculous government action lying down and filed a law suit in Federal Court, for violation of his civil rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Mr. Jarlstrom's attorneys SCHWABE, WILLIAMSON & WYATT P.C. filed the law suit on December 4th 2017 with legal backing from the INSTITUTE FOR JUSTICE. In spite of Oregon State petition to dismiss the case, judge STACIE F. BECKERMAN instructed the case to be admitted on December 12th 2017.

Apparently, Oregon State government is more concerned about choice of words in what could be a private letter from a concerned citizen, than correcting any material suggestion from the public.

Oregon State government, backing up the narrow interests of a guild that by definition, was established to limit competition and secure the financial interests of its members, went well beyond serving the public interest. The latest overreach by the Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying, exposes the ridiculous anachronism that governs how the state is trying to curb engineering-related occupations. Many new engineering-related occupations became prevalent during the last two centuries, including electronics and software engineering that the board has no place to regulate or intervene with. The board should either be disbanded or stick to old engineering-occupations that it was able to corral in the 19th century.

The outcome of this upcoming court proceedings and the resulting judgement will either send the State of Oregon back to the days of the fur trappers economy or pave the way to a technology-based future.

--Dr. Flywheel


Wednesday, November 8, 2017


In an effort to help employees who have been faced with a recent layoff notice to effectively deal with their situation I have copied information directly from the EEOC site. EEOC stands for Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is the Federal agency in charge of regulating and supervising employment practices in the U.S. Besides the regulatory function of the EEOC this agency also has an enforcement function with ability to sue employer rule violators in Federal Civil Courts as well as the authority to independently investigate and prosecute violations in its own Administrative Court.

The EEOC guidelines to employers (and by conjecture, to affected employees), interpreting the rules that govern severance agreements are very important to consider before (and after) signing such an agreement. In many cases a severance agreement does not meet the legal requirement and therefore provides grounds for pursuing further compensation from the non-compliant employer.

Note that any age discrimination claims cannot be excluded by any legal severance agreement. Your rights to file an age discrimination complaint with the EEOC are preserved in all cases, whether you decide to file a law suit against your employer or not. Filing an employment discrimination complaint against your employer does not require hiring an attorney, though consulting an attorney about your specific case may be helpful.

In addition, if you are 40 years old or older and you are being faced with signing a severance agreement, your employer must provide you with a report, specifying the job descriptions of all the employees included in layoff-affected business units, along with the ages of all employees who were selected for termination,and along the ages of employees who will remain employed (not selceted) after the layoff action. This report is known as the OWBPA ReportOWBPA stands for Old Workers Benefit Protection Act

The OWBPA report is not considered confidential or proprietary, since it is mandated by law. Keep your copy of your report handy and do not hesitate to use it to advance your cause.

ADEA stands for the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Most severance agreements will refer to the ADEA, specifically.

An OWBPA report, many time reveals a disproportionate number of older employees (aged 40+) being selected for layoff. This fact along with complaints filed with the EEOC against your employer, could lead to investigation of the facts and subsequent sanction applied to the violating employer. In relevant cases a terminated employee will also receive a judgement from the EEOC administrative court entitling them to further compensation from their former employer for suffering the discrimination treatment.

--Dr. Flywheel


  2. Employee reductions and terminations have been an unfortunate result of the current economic downturn.  Even in good economic times, however, businesses of every size carefully assess their operational structures and may sometimes decide to reduce their workforce.  Often, employers terminate older employees who are eligible for retirement, or nearly so, because they generally have been with the company the longest and are paid the highest salaries.  Other employers evaluate individual employees on criteria such as performance or experience, or decide to lay off all employees in a particular position, division, or department.[1]  An employer’s decision to terminate or lay off certain employees, while retaining others, may lead discharged workers to believe that they were discriminated against based on their age, race, sex, national origin, religion, or disability.
    To minimize the risk of potential litigation, many employers offer departing employees money or benefits in exchange for a release (or “waiver”) of liability for all claims connected with the employment relationship, including discrimination claims under the civil rights laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) -- the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Equal Pay Act (EPA).[2] While it is common for senior-level executives to negotiate severance provisions when initially hired, other employees typically are offered severance agreements and asked to sign a waiver at the time of termination. When presented with a severance agreement, many employees wonder: Is this legal? Should I sign it?
    This document answers questions that you may have if you are offered a severance agreement in exchange for a waiver of your actual or potential discrimination claims.  Part II provides basic information about severance agreements; Part III explains when a waiver is valid; and Part IV specifically addresses waivers of age discrimination claims that must comply with provisions of the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA).  Finally, this document includes a checklist with tips on what you should do before signing a waiver in a severance agreement and a sample of an agreement offered to a group of employees giving them the opportunity to resign in exchange for severance benefits.

  4. A severance agreement is a contract, or legal agreement, between an employer and an employee that specifies the terms of an employment termination, such as a layoff.   Sometimes this agreement is called a “separation” or “termination” agreement or “separation agreement general release and covenant not to sue.”[3] Like any contract, a severance agreement must be supported by “consideration.”  Consideration is something of value to which a person is not already entitled that is given in exchange for an agreement to do, or refrain from doing, something.
    The consideration offered for the waiver of the right to sue cannot simply be a pension benefit or payment for earned vacation or sick leave to which the employee is already entitled but, rather, must be something of value in addition to any of the employee’s existing entitlements.  An example of consideration would be a lump sum payment of a percentage of the employee’s annual salary or periodic payments of the employee’s salary for a specified period of time after termination.  The employee’s signature and retention of the consideration generally indicates acceptance of the terms of the agreement.

    1. What does a severance agreement look like?
    2. A severance agreement often is written like a contract or letter and generally includes a list of numbered paragraphs setting forth specific terms regarding the date of termination, severance payments, benefits, references, return of company property, and release of claims against the employer.  If your employer decides to terminate you, it may give you a severance agreement similar to the one that follows:
      Example 1:  This letter sets forth our agreement with respect to all matters that pertain to your employment and separation from employment by [your organization] (“the Company”).
      1. Termination of Employment. You will cease to be employed by the Company on X date.
      2. Severance Payments. The Company agrees to pay you X weeks of severance pay.  The severance pay will be in addition to the payment of unused accrued vacation pay to which you are entitled.  You may elect to receive this severance pay in the form of a lump sum payment, or spread it over a number of weeks, less applicable deductions for taxes.
      1. General Release. You agree that the consideration set forth above, which is in addition to anything of value to which you are or might otherwise be entitled, shall constitute a complete and final settlement of any and all causes of actions or claims you have had, now have or may have up to the date of this agreement including, without limitation, those arising out of or in connection with your employment and/or termination by the Company pursuant to any federal, state, or local employment laws, statutes, public policies, orders or regulations, including without limitation, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and [certain state]  laws.
      Agreements that specifically cover the release of age claims will also include additional information intended to comply with OWBPA requirements.  See Part IV.A, Question and Answer 6.
      Example 2:  This agreement is intended to comply with the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act.  You acknowledge and agree that you specifically are waiving rights and claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

  6. Most employees who sign waivers in severance agreements never attempt to challenge them. Some discharged employees, however, may feel that they have no choice but to sign the waiver, even though they suspect discrimination, or they may learn something after signing the waiver that leads them to believe they were discriminated against during employment or wrongfully terminated.
    If an employee who signed a waiver later files a lawsuit alleging discrimination, the employer will argue that the court should dismiss the case because the employee waived the right to sue, and the employee will respond that the waiver should not bind her because it is legally invalid.   Before looking at the employee’s discrimination claim, a court first will decide whether the waiver is valid.  If a court concludes that the waiver is invalid, it will decide the employee’s discrimination claim, but it will dismiss the claim if it finds that the waiver is valid.
    A waiver in a severance agreement generally is valid when an employee knowingly and voluntarily consents to the waiver. The rules regarding whether a waiver is knowing and voluntary depend on the statute under which suit has been, or may be, brought.  The rules for waivers under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act are defined by statute – the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA).[4] Under other laws, such as Title VII, the rules are derived from case law.  In addition to being knowingly and voluntarily signed, a valid agreement also must: (1) offer some sort of consideration, such as additional compensation, in exchange for the employee’s waiver of the right to sue; (2) not require the employee to waive future rights; and (3) comply with applicable state and federal laws.[5]

    1. What determines whether a waiver of rights under Title VII, the ADA, or the EPA was “knowing and voluntary”?
    2. To determine whether an employee knowingly and voluntarily waived his discrimination claims, some courts rely on traditional contract principles and focus primarily on whether the language in the waiver is clear.[6]  Most courts, however, look beyond the contract language and consider all relevant factors – or the totality of the circumstances -- to determine whether the employee knowingly and voluntarily waived the right to sue. [7]  These courts consider the following circumstances and conditions under which the waiver was signed:
      • whether it was written in a manner that was clear and specific enough for the employee to understand based on his education and business experience;
      • whether it was induced by fraud, duress, undue influence, or other improper conduct by the employer;
      • whether the employee had enough time to read and think about the advantages and disadvantages of the agreement before signing it;
      • whether the employee consulted with an attorney or was encouraged or discouraged by the employer from doing so;[8]
      • whether the employee had any input in negotiating the terms of the agreement; and
      • whether the employer offered the employee consideration (e.g., severance pay, additional benefits) that exceeded what the employee already was entitled to by law or contract and the employee accepted the offered consideration.
        Example 3:  An employee who was laid off from her position at an automobile assembly plant agreed to release her employer from all claims in exchange for a $100,000 severance payment.  After signing the waiver and cashing the check, she filed a lawsuit alleging that she was harassed and discriminated against by her coworkers during her employment.  A court found that the employee’s waiver was knowing and voluntary by looking at the totality of circumstances surrounding its execution: the employee graduated from college and completed paralegal classes that included a course in contracts; she had no difficulty reading; the agreement was clear and unambiguous; she had ample time to consider whether to sign it; she was represented by counsel; the cash payment provided by the employer was fair consideration; and she did not offer to return the payment she received for signing the waiver.[9]
        Example 4:  An employee was informed that his company was downsizing and that he had 30 days to elect voluntary or involuntary separation. The employee chose voluntary separation in exchange for severance pay and additional retirement benefits and signed a waiver, which stated:  “I . . . hereby release and discharge [my employer] from any and all claims which I have or might have, arising out of or related to my employment or resignation or termination.”   The employee later filed suit alleging that he was terminated based on his race and national origin.
        In finding that the employee’s waiver was not knowing and voluntary, a court noted that although the language of the agreement was “clear and unambiguous,” it failed to specifically mention the release of employment discrimination claims.  Because the employee was only high school educated and unfamiliar with the law, his argument that he believed he only was releasing claims arising from his voluntary termination and the benefits package he accepted was “not an unreasonable conclusion.”[10]

    3. May I still file a charge with the EEOC if I believe that I have been discriminated against based on my age, race, sex, or disability, even if I signed a waiver releasing my employer from all claims?
    4. Yes. Although your severance agreement may use broad language to describe the claims that you are releasing (see Example 1), you can still file a charge with the EEOC if you believe you were discriminated against during employment or wrongfully terminated.[11]   In addition, no agreement between you and your employer can limit your right to testify, assist, or participate in an investigation, hearing, or proceeding conducted by the EEOC under the ADEA, Title VII, the ADA, or the EPA.   Any provision in a waiver that attempts to waive these rights is invalid and unenforceable.[12]

    5. If I file a charge with the EEOC after signing a waiver, will I have to return my severance pay?
    6. No.  Because provisions in severance agreements that attempt to prevent employees from filing a charge with the EEOC or participating in an EEOC investigation, hearing, or proceeding are unenforceable (see Question and Answer 3 above), you cannot be  required to return your severance pay --or other consideration --before filing a charge.[13]

    7. Will I have to return my severance pay if I file a discrimination suit in court after signing a waiver?
    8. Under the ADEA, an employee is not required to return severance pay -- or other consideration received for signing the waiver -- before bringing an age discrimination claim.[14]  Under Title VII, the ADA, or the EPA, however, the law is less clear.  Some courts conclude that the validity of the waiver cannot be challenged unless the employee returns the consideration, while other courts apply the ADEA’s “no tender back” rule to claims brought under Title VII and other discrimination statutes and allow employees to proceed with their claims without first returning the consideration.[15]
      Even if a court does not require you to return the consideration before proceeding with your lawsuit, it may reduce the amount of any money you are awarded if your suit is successful by the amount of consideration you received for signing the waiver.  See Part IV.A. Question and Answer 9.

    1. General Requirements for Employees Age 40 and Over
    2. In 1990, Congress amended the ADEA by adding the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) to clarify the prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of age. OWBPA establishes specific requirements for a “knowing and voluntary” release of ADEA claims to guarantee that an employee has every opportunity to make an informed choice whether or not to sign the waiver. There are additional disclosure requirements under the statute when waivers are requested from a group or class of employees. See “Additional Requirements for Group Layoffs of Employees Age 40 and Over” at IV. B.

    1. What makes a waiver of age claims knowing and voluntary?
    2. OWBPA lists seven factors that must be satisfied for a waiver of age discrimination claims to be considered “knowing and voluntary.”[16]  At a minimum:
      • A waiver must be written in a manner that can be clearly understood.  EEOC regulations emphasize that waivers must be drafted in plain language geared to the level of comprehension and education of the average individual(s) eligible to participate. Usually this requires the elimination of technical jargon and long, complex sentences.  In addition, the waiver must not have the effect of misleading, misinforming, or failing to inform participants and must present any advantages or disadvantages without either exaggerating the benefits or minimizing the limitations.
        Example 5:  An employee, who had worked for his company for  28 years, was selected for an involuntary RIF and asked to sign a "General Release and Covenant Not to Sue” (severance agreement) in exchange for money. The severance agreement provided, among other things, that the employee “released” his employer “from all claims . . . of whatever kind,” including claims under the ADEA and any other federal, state, or local law dealing with discrimination in employment.  The severance agreement also referenced “covenants not to sue” and stated that “[t]his covenant not to sue does not apply to actions based solely under the [ADEA].”  After reading the severance agreement, the employee asked his supervisor if the exception for ADEA claims contained in the covenant not to sue meant he could sue the employer if his suit was limited to claims under the ADEA.  His supervisor contacted the employer’s legal department and then sent the employee an e-mail stating, "Regarding your question on the General Release and Covenant Not to Sue, the wording is as intended. . . . . The site attorney was not comfortable providing an interpretation for you and suggested you consult with your own attorney."
        The employee signed the agreement, collected severance benefits, and then sued his employer for age discrimination under the ADEA.  A court held that the severance agreement was not enforceable because it was not written in a manner calculated to be understood. [17]
      • A waiver must specifically refer to rights or claims arising under the ADEA.  EEOC regulations specifically state that an OWBPA waiver must expressly spell out the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) by name.
      • A waiver must advise the employee in writing to consult an attorney before accepting the agreement.
        Example 6:  A release stating: “I have had reasonable and sufficient time and opportunity to consult with an independent legal representative of my own choosing before signing this Complete Release of All Claims,” did not comply with OWBPA’s requirement that an individual be advised to consult with an attorney.  Although the voluntary early retirement agreement advised employees to consult financial and tax advisors, to seek advice from local personnel representatives, and to attend retirement seminars, it said nothing about seeking independent legal advice prior to making the election to retire and accepting the agreement.[18]
      • A waiver must provide the employee with at least 21 days to consider the offer.  The regulations clarify that the 21-day consideration period runs from the date of the employer’s final offer.  If material changes to the final offer are made, the 21-day period starts over.[19]
      • A waiver must give an employee seven days to revoke his or her signature.  The seven-day revocation period cannot be changed or waived by either party for any reason. 
      • A waiver must not include rights and claims that may arise after the date on which the waiver is executed.  This provision bars waiving rights regarding new acts of discrimination that occur after the date of signing, such as a claim that an employer retaliated against a former employee who filed a charge with the EEOC by giving an unfavorable reference to a prospective employer.
        Example 7:  An employee who received enhanced severance benefits in exchange for waiving her right to challenge her layoff later filed suit.  In finding the waiver valid, the court noted that because the waiver clearly stated that she was releasing any claims that she “may now have or have had,” it did not require her to waive future claims hat may arise after the waiver was signed.[20]
      • A waiver must be supported by consideration in addition to that to which the employee already is entitled.
      If a waiver of age claims fails to meet any of these seven requirements, it is invalid and unenforceable.[21]  In addition, an employer cannot attempt to “cure” a defective waiver by issuing a subsequent letter containing OWBPA-required information that was omitted from the original agreement.[22]

    3. Are there other factors that may make a waiver of age claims invalid?
    4. Yes.  Even when a waiver complies with OWBPA’s requirements (see Question and Answer 6 above), a waiver of age claims, like waivers of Title VII and other discrimination claims, will be invalid and unenforceable if an employer used fraud, undue influence, or other improper conduct to coerce the employee to sign it, or if it contains a material mistake, omission, or misstatement.
      Example 8:  An employee who was told that his termination resulted from “reorganization” signed a waiver in exchange for severance pay.  After a younger person was hired to do his former job, he filed a lawsuit alleging age discrimination.  The company then changed its position and claimed that the real reason for the employee’s discharge was his poor performance.  The employee argued that his waiver was invalid due to fraud and that if he had known that he was being terminated because of alleged poor performance, he would have suspected age discrimination and would not have signed the waiver.  The court held that fraud was a sufficient reason for finding the waiver invalid.[23]
      Example 9:  An employee was terminated and given ten weeks of severance pay in exchange for signing an agreement waiving all of her potential discrimination claims. She later filed a lawsuit alleging that she was continuously passed over for promotion based on her age and sex throughout her employment.  In response to the employer’s attempt to dismiss her suit, she alleged that the waiver was an ultimatum which effectively gave her no choice since she was her grandchildren’s guardian and her family’s source of income.  The court held that the employee’s financial problems and prospective loss of her job did not constitute “duress” for the purpose of invalidating a waiver.[24]

    5. If I am 40 years old or older, am I entitled to more severance pay or benefits than a younger employee?
    6. No.  Although severance packages often are structured differently for different employees depending on position and tenure, an employer is not required to give you a greater amount of consideration than is given to a person under the age of 40 solely because you are protected by the ADEA.[25]

    7. Are there any circumstances where I may have to pay my employer back the money it gave me for the waiver of my age claims?
    8. Yes.  Your employer may offset money it paid you in exchange for waiving your rights if you successfully challenge the waiver, prove age discrimination, and obtain a monetary award.  However, your employer’s recovery may not exceed the amount it paid for the waiver or the amount of your award if it is less.[26]
      Example 10:   Your employer paid you $15,000 in exchange for a waiver of your age discrimination claim.  You sue and convince a court that your waiver was not “knowing and voluntary” under OWBPA and that you are entitled to $10,000 in back pay and liquidated damages based on age discrimination.  A court could reduce your award to zero because $10,000 is less than the $15,000 the employer already paid you for the waiver.
      Example 11:  Same as Example 10, except that you are awarded $30,000 based on age discrimination.   A court could not reduce your award by more than $15,000, the amount you received in exchange for the waiver.  This means that you would still get $30,000 – the $15,000 your employer paid you for your waiver and an additional $15,000 awarded by the court.

    9. If I challenge an age discrimination waiver in court, may my employer renege on promises it made in the agreement?
    10. No.  EEOC regulations state that an employer cannot “abrogate,” or avoid, its duties under an ADEA waiver even if you challenge it.  Because you have a right under OWBPA to have a court determine a waiver’s validity, it is unlawful for your employer to stop making promised severance payments or to withhold any other benefits it agreed to provide.[27]
      Example 12:  A company eliminated almost all of its direct sales positions and offered terminated employees six months of severance benefits in exchange for signing a waiver.  In response to the employees’ suit alleging age discrimination, the company indicated that it was suspending any further severance payments and was discontinuing other benefits provided under the waiver agreement.  A court held that the company could not cut off severance payments or demand repayment of benefits because the employees filed suit challenging the validity of the waiver.[28]

    1. Additional Requirements for Group Layoffs of Employees Age 40 and Over
    2. When employers decide to reduce their workforce by laying off or terminating a group of employees, they usually do so pursuant to two types of programs: “exit incentive programs” and “other employment termination programs.”  When a waiver is offered to employees in connection with one of these types of programs, an employer must provide enough information about the factors it used in making selections to allow employees who were laid off to determine whether older employees were terminated while younger ones were retained.

    1. What is an “exit incentive” or “other termination” program?
    2. Typically, an “exit incentive program” is a voluntary program where an employer offers two or more employees, such as older employees or those in specific organizational units or job functions, additional consideration to persuade them to voluntarily resign and sign a waiver.  An “other employment termination program” generally refers to a program where two or more employees are involuntarily terminated and are offered additional consideration in return for their decision to sign a waiver.[29]
      Example 13:  A bank must eliminate 20% of its 200 teller positions in a particular geographic location and decides to retain only those employees who most recently received the highest performance ratings. The bank sends a letter to 50 tellers who were rated “needs improvement” offering them six months pay if they voluntarily agree to resign and sign a waiver.  This is an “exit incentive program.”
      Example 14:  Same facts as in Example 13, but only 30 tellers voluntarily resign. The bank involuntarily lays off 10 tellers with severance pay in exchange for their waiver of age claims.  This is an “other termination program.”
      Whether a “program” exists depends on the facts and circumstances of each case; however, the general rule is that a “program” exists if an employer offers additional consideration – or, an incentive to leave – in exchange for signing a waiver to more than one employee.[30]  By contrast, if a large employer terminated five employees in different units for cause (e.g., poor performance) over the course of several days or months, it is unlikely that a “program” exists.  In both exit incentive and other termination programs, the employer determines the terms of the severance agreement, which typically are non-negotiable. [31]

    3. If I am in a group of employees who are being laid off and asked to sign a waiver, what information does my employer have to give to me?
    4. Your waiver must meet the minimum OWBPA "knowing and voluntary" requirements (see Question and Answer 6 above).  In addition, your employer must give you - and all other employees who are being laid off with you - written notice of your layoff and at least 45 days to consider the waiver before signing it.  Specifically, the employer must inform you in writing of:
      • the "decisional unit"  -- the class , unit, or group of employees from which the employer chose the employees who were and who were not selected for the program
      Example 15:   If an employer decides it must eliminate 10 percent of its workforce at a particular facility, then the entire facility is the decisional unit, and the employer has to disclose the titles and ages of all employees at the facility who were and who were not selected for the layoff.   If, however, the employer must eliminate 15 jobs and only considers employees in its accounting department (and not bookkeeping or sales) , then the accounting department is the decisional unit, and the employer has to disclose the title and ages of all employees in the accounting department whose positions were and were not selected for elimination.
      The particular circumstances of each termination program determine whether the decisional unit is the entire company, a division, a department, employees reporting to a particular manager, or workers in a specific job classification.
      • eligibility factors for the program;[32]
      • the time limits applicable to the program;
      • the job titles and ages of all individuals who are eligible or who were selected for the program (the use of age bands broader than one year, such as "age 40-50" does not satisfy this requirement) and the ages of all individuals in the same job classifications or organizational unit who are not eligible or who were not selected.
      See Appendix B for an example of an agreement issued to employees being laid off or terminated pursuant to a group exit incentive program.

  9. If your employer decides to terminate your job, you may be given a severance agreement that requires you to waive your right to sue for wrongful termination based on age, race, sex, disability, and other types of discrimination.  Although most signed waivers are enforceable if they meet certain contract principles and statutory requirements, an employer cannot lawfully limit your right to testify, assist, or participate in an investigation, hearing, or proceeding conducted by the EEOC or prevent you from filing a charge of discrimination with the agency.  An employer also cannot lawfully require you to return the money or benefits it gave you in exchange for waving your rights if you do file a charge.  While this document is not intended to cover all of the issues that arise when your employer informs you that you are being terminated or laid off, the following checklist may help you decide whether or not to sign a waiver.


Employee Checklist: What to Do When Your Employer Offers You a
Severance Agreement:

  • Make sure that you understand the agreement
    • Read the agreement to see if it is clear and specific, or if it is confusing because it contains terms you do not understand.
    • If you are 40 or older, inform your employer that the law requires your agreement to be written in a manner that makes it easy to understand. Usually this means that your agreement should not contain technical jargon or long, complex sentences.
  • Check for deadlines and act promptly
    • The moment you are given a severance agreement, check to see if your employer gave you a deadline for accepting, or declining, the agreement. If you are 40 years old or older, federal law requires the employer to give you at least 21 days to review the agreement and make up your mind.
    • If your employer has not given you a reasonable amount of time, or rushes your decision, this is a red flag. An employer who is fair will understand that you cannot review or make decisions about an important document on a moment’s notice.
    • If you are being rushed, ask for more time. Put your request in writing. If you are 40 or older and your employer is asking you for a decision in fewer than 21 days, remind the employer that the law requires you to be provided at least 21 days. (If you and at least one other person are being laid off in a reduction in force (RIF) at the same time, you must be given 45 days to consider the agreement.)
  • Consider having an attorney review the severance agreement
    • Even if you are parting amicably with your employer, you may want to ask for advice about whether you should sign it, whether the terms are reasonable, and whether you should ask your employer to change any of the terms.
    • If you decide that you want an attorney to review the agreement, promptly make an appointment. Do not wait until the last day before the deadline to review the severance agreement.
    • If you are at least 40 years old, the agreement must advise you to consult with an attorney.
  • Make sure you understand what you are giving up in exchange for severance pay or benefits
    • The main benefit to signing an agreement is that you will receive a cash payment or benefits in exchange for signing away your right to bring certain legal claims against your employer.
    • Make sure that the agreement offers you something of value to which you are not already entitled.
    • If you think you have been wrongfully terminated because of age, race, sex, religion, or some other discriminatory reason, you may want to think twice about signing. The benefits of signing a severance agreement should be carefully weighed against claims you might have against your employer, the likelihood of winning a court case or settlement, and the probable costs.
  • Review the agreement to ensure that it does not ask you to release nonwaivable rights
    • Confirm that your employer is not asking you to waive your right to file a charge, testify, assist, or cooperate with the EEOC.
    • Make certain that the agreement is not asking you to waive rights or claims that may arise after the date you sign the waiver.
    • Make sure that your employer is not asking you to release your claims for unemployment compensation benefits, workers compensation benefits, claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act, health insurance benefits under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), or claims with regard to vested benefits under a retirement plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).


[Please note: Appendix B was revised in April 2010]

Sample Waiver and General Release: Group Layoffs of Employees Age 40 and Over

The following example illustrates one way in which the required OWBPA information could be presented to employees as part of a waiver agreement and is not intended to suggest that employers must follow this format. Rather, each waiver agreement should be individualized based on an employer’s particular organizational structure and the average comprehension and education of the employees in the decisional unit subject to termination. For another example of how the required information might be presented, see 29 C.F.R. § 1625.22(f)(vii).
Although this sample addresses only OWBPA issues, most severance agreements also ask employees to waive all claims against the employer, including claims arising under any federal, state, and local laws. See paragraph 6 below.
Dear [Employee]:
This letter will constitute the agreement between you and [your employer](“the Company”) on the terms of your separation from the Company (hereinafter the “Agreement”). The Agreement will be effective on the date specified in paragraph 7, below.
  1. Your employment will terminate on _______X_____ date.
  2. or
    You have agreed to resign on _______X_______ date. Your last day of work will be _______X_______ date.
  3. In consideration of your acceptance of this Agreement, the Company will pay you an extra ______ [week’s][month’s] salary at your current rate of $_______ per [week][month], less customary payroll deductions, to be paid within five (5) business days after the effective date of this Agreement as defined in paragraph 7 below. This severance pay will be in addition to your earned salary and accrued vacation pay or leave to which you are entitled.
  4. ***
    [Paragraphs 3, 4, and 5 may address benefits, unemployment compensation, references, return of property, confidentiality, etc.]
  1. Except as to claims that cannot be released under applicable law, you waive and release any and all claims you have or might have against the Company. . . .These claims include, but are not limited to claims for discrimination arising under federal, state, and local statutory or common law, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Genetic Information and Discrimination Act, and [state law].
  2. ***
  3. The following information is required by OWBPA:You acknowledge that on __________________, you were given 45 days to consider and accept the terms of this Agreement and that you were advised to consult with an attorney about the Agreement before signing it. To accept the Agreement, please date and sign this letter and return it to me. Once you do so, you will still have seven (7) additional days from the date you sign to revoke your acceptance (“revocation period”). If you decide to revoke this Agreement after signing and returning it, you must give me a written statement of revocation or send it to me by fax, electronic mail, or registered mail. If you do not revoke during the seven-day revocation period, this Agreement will take effect on the eighth (8th) day after the date you the sign the Agreement.
    The class, unit, or group of individuals covered by the program includes all employees in the _____ [plant, location, area, etc.] whose employment is being terminated in the reduction in force during the following period :_______________). All employees in ___[plant, location, area, etc.] whose employment is being terminated are eligible for the program.
    The following is a listing of the ages and job titles of employees who were and were not selected for layoff [or termination] and offered consideration for signing the waiver. Except for those employees selected for layoff [or termination], no other employee is eligible or offered consideration in exchange for signing the waiver:

    Job TitleAge# Selected# Not Selected
    (1) Bookkeepers
    (2) Accountants
    (3) Retail Sales Clerks
    (4) Wholesale Clerks
On Behalf [the Company]
By signing this letter, I acknowledge that I have had the opportunity to consult with an attorney of my choice; that I have carefully reviewed and considered this Agreement; that I understand the terms of the Agreement; and that I voluntarily agree to them.


[1] When employers conduct a reduction in force (RIF), they often do so pursuant to “exit incentive programs.”  For example, an employer may offer a one-time “buyout” to certain employees (e.g., “all hourly employees”) or an “early retirement” program to all employees who are already eligible for immediate retirement benefits to persuade them to voluntarily resign; or, it may carry out an involuntary RIF, where it lays off all employees in a particular position or division.  See discussion in Part IV.B.
[2] The ADEA prohibits employment discrimination against persons 40 years of age or older; Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), and national origin; Title I of the ADA prohibits employment discrimination against an individual on the basis of disability; and the EPA prohibits sex-based wage discrimination between men and women in the same establishment who are performing under similar working conditions. See https://www.eeoc.gov/abouteeo/overview_laws.html.
[3] This document uses the term “severance agreement” to describe any termination agreement between an employer and an employee, whether voluntary or involuntary, that requires the employee to waive the right to sue for discrimination.
[4] Waivers of age claims are governed by OWBPA which provides a minimum set of conditions that have to be met in order for the agreement to be considered knowing and voluntary. A waiver of an ADEA claim, therefore, is not valid unless it satisfies OWBPA's specific requirements and was not induced by the employer’s improper conduct.  See Part IV.A, Questions and Answers 6 and 7.
[5] State law typically governs questions regarding the proper construction of a severance agreement and the validity of waivers.  For example, under the Minnesota Age Discrimination Act, a release must give the employee fifteen days after signing the agreement to change his mind and revoke his signature. Under California law, a waiver cannot release unknown claims unless the waiver agreement contains certain language specifically providing for such a waiver. Other states may impose additional requirements to obtain an effective waiver of certain state law claims. To determine whether a severance agreement is enforceable in the state in which you work, contact your state labor law department or consult with an attorney for legal advice.
In addition to waiver issues, workforce reductions or other substantial business changes often trigger additional legal obligations arising, for example, under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), relevant benefit plans, and labor contracts.
[6] See e.g., Morrison v. Circuit City Stores, 317 F.3d 646 (6th Cir. 2003)(“[i]n reviewing whether a waiver of prospective claims was valid, we apply ordinary contract principles”); Warnebold v. Union Pac. R.R., 963 F.2d 222 (8th Cir. 1992)(court applied “ordinary contract principles” in determining whether there was a knowing and voluntary waiver of claims).
[7] See e.g., Wastak v. Lehigh Health Network, 342 F.3d 281 (3d Cir. 2003)(courts must inquire into the totality of circumstances “to determine whether the execution of a waiver was ‘knowing and voluntary’”); Smith v. Amedisys, Inc., 298 F.3d 434 (5th Cir. 2002)(“[i]n determining whether a release was knowingly  and voluntarily executed, this court has adopted a ‘totality of the circumstances’ approach”).  Even courts that apply ordinary contract principles generally consider the circumstances surrounding the execution of the release, the clarity of the release, and whether the employee was represented by or discouraged from consulting an attorney. See e.g., Whitmire v. WAY_FM Group, Inc., 2008 WL 5158186 (M.D. Tenn. Dec. 8, 2008)(in holding that a waiver was knowing and voluntary, a court noted that the employee was given at least 21 days to consider the agreement, asked questions that resulted in a revised agreement, sought advice from an attorney but disregarded it and decided to sign the agreement, had seven days after she signed the agreement to revoke it and chose not to do so, and admitted she understood what she was signing).
[8] See e.g., Pilon v. University of Minn., 710 F.2d 466 (8th Cir. 1983)(where the employee was represented by counsel, the release language was clear, and there was no claim of fraud or duress,  the release was upheld). Waivers that are executed by employees who were not advised to seek legal advice are more closely scrutinized than agreements entered into by employees after consultation with an attorney.
[9] See Hampton v. Ford Motor Company, 561 F.3d 709 (7th Cir. 2009).
[10] See Torrez v. Public Service Company of New Mexico, Inc., 908 F.2d 687 (10th Cir. 1990); but see Cirillo v. Arco Chem. Co., 862 F.2d 448 (3d Cir. 1988)(employee’s waiver was knowing and voluntary where he was  advised of equal employment laws, encouraged to consult employee relations representative, and release specifically mentioned Title VII).
[11] See EEOC’s website for information on “How to File a Charge of Discrimination” at https://www.eeoc.gov/charge/overview_charge_filing.html.
[12] Agreements that prevent employees from cooperating with the EEOC interfere with enforcement activities because they deprive the Commission of important testimony and evidence needed to determine whether discrimination has occurred. EEOC guidance also states that obtaining a promise from an employee not to file a charge or assist in Commission investigations constitutes unlawful retaliation in violation of federal employment rights statutes. See EEOC Enforcement Guidance on Non-Waivable Employee Rights Under EEOC Enforced Statutes (April 1997); see also 29 C.F.R.  § 1625.22(i)(2).
[13] Although your right to file a charge with the EEOC is protected, you can waive the right to recover from your employer either in your own lawsuit, or in any suit brought on your behalf by the Commission. See EEOC Enforcement Guidance on Non-Waivable Employee Rights Under EEOC Enforced Statutes.
[14] See Questions and Answers: Final Regulation on “Tender Back” and Related Issues Concerning ADEA Waivers, available at www.eeoc.gov/policy/regs/tenderback-qanda.html. Recognizing that older workers often need their severance payments to live on and may, in fact, already have spent the payments on living expenses, EEOC regulations clarify that the contract principles of “tender back” (returning the consideration received for the waiver before challenging it in court) and “ratification” (approving or ratifying the waiver by retaining the consideration) do not apply to ADEA waivers. See also Oubre v. Entergy Operations, Inc., 522 U.S. 422 (1998) (holding that because the release failed to comply with OWBPA, it could not bar the employee’s ADEA claim even if the employee retained the monies she received in exchange for the release).
Employers also may not avoid the “no tender back rule” by using other means to limit an employee’s right to challenge a waiver agreement or by penalizing an employee for challenging a waiver agreement.  For example, an employer may not require an employee to agree to pay damages to the employer or pay the employer’s attorney’s fees simply for filing an age suit.  Employers, however, are not precluded from recovering attorneys’ fees or costs specifically authorized under federal law. 29 C.F.R. § 1625.23(b).
[15] See, e.g., Blackwell v. Cole Taylor Bank, 152 F. 3d 666 (7th Cir. 1998) (noting that employees bringing non-age claims might still have to “tender back” their consideration) and Hampton v. Ford Motor Co.., 561 F.3d 709 ( 7th Cir. 2009)(noting that because no exception to the “tender back” rule exists in this Title VII case, employee  must return – or least offer to return—the consideration she received before challenging the validity of the waiver); but see Rangel v. El Paso Natural Gas Co., (holding that because the primary purpose of the ADEA and Title VII is to make it easier for an employee to challenge discrimination, employees bringing claims under Title VII should not have to return their severance pay before filing suit).
[16] See EEOC regulations Waiver of Rights and Claims Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).  29 C.F.R. Part 1625.
[17] See Thormforde v. International Business Machines Corp., 406 F.3d 500 (8th Cir. 1999); see also Syverson v. IBM, 472 F. 3d 1072 (9th Cir. 2007) (court adopted the reasoning in Thormforde when finding the same waiver used under different circumstances invalid).
[18] See American Airlines, Inc. v. Cardoza-Rodriguez, 133 F.3d 111 (1st Cir. 1998) (to “advise” employees to consult an attorney means affirmatively to “caution,” “warn,” or “recommend”).
[19] An agreement can be signed prior to the 21- (or 45- ) day time period as long as employee’s decision is knowing and voluntary and is not induced by the employer through fraud, misrepresentation, a threat to withdraw or alter the offer prior to the expiration of the 21- or 45-day time period, or by providing different terms to employees who sign the release prior to the expiration of such time period. 29 C.F.R. 1625.22 (e) (6).
[20] See Budro v. BAE Sys. Info. And Elec. Sys. Integration, Inc., 2008 WL 1774961 (D.N.H. April 16, 2008).
[21] Although a waiver that fails to meet OWBPA’s requirements is unenforceable, a number of courts have refused to permit a suit based solely on an employer’s alleged violation of OWBPA requirements, holding that a failure to meet those requirements cannot create a separate cause of action under OWBPA and is not a violation of the ADEA. See e.g., EEOC v. Sara Lee Corp., 883 F. Supp. 211 (N.D. Ill. 1995); Williams v. General Motors Corp., 901 F. Supp. 252 (E.D. Mich. 1995); but see Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Bull HN Information Sys. Inc., 16 F. Supp. 2d 90 (D. Mass. 1998)(holding that an invalid waiver can be an independent cause of action under the ADEA); in a subsequent proceeding, Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Bull HN Information Sys. Inc., 143 F. Supp. 2d 134 (D. Mass. 2001), the court clarified that although employees can bring a  suit challenging a violation of OWBPA requirements, they cannot recover damages absent proof of age discrimination.
[22] See Butcher v. Gerber Products Co., 8 F. Supp. 2d 307 (S.D.N.Y. 1998)(as a matter of law and public policy, an employer is allowed only one chance to conform to the requirements of OWBPA and cannot “cure” a defective release by issuing a letter to employees containing OWBPA-required information that was omitted from their separation agreements and request that they either “reaffirm” their acceptance or “revoke” the release).
[23] See Lauderdale v. Johnston Indus., Inc., 31 Fed. Appx. 940 (11th Cir. 2002).
[24] See Cassiday v. Greenhorne & Omara, Inc., 220 F.Supp. 2d 488 (D. Maryland 2002) (noting that the employee did not allege that her “employer threatened or otherwise misled or duped her into signing; at all times, she remained free to reject the offer and pursue her legal remedies”).
[25] See 29 C.F.R § 1625.22 (d) (4).   See also DiBiase v. SmithKline Beecham Corp., 48 F. 3d 719 (3d Cir. 1995)(an employer may offer enhanced benefits to all terminated employees who agree to waive all claims against the company, without providing extra consideration to employees protected by the ADEA).
[26] See Questions and Answers: Final Regulation on “Tender Back” and Related Issues Concerning ADEA Waivers, available at www.eeoc.gov/policy/regs/tenderback-qanda.html; 29 C.F.R. § 1625.23(c).
[27] See Questions and Answers: Final Regulation on “Tender Back” and Related Issues Concerning ADEA Waivers, available at www.eeoc.gov/policy/regs/tenderback-qanda.html; 29 C.F. R. § 1625.23(d).
[28] See Butcher v. Gerber Products Co.,  8 F. Supp. 2d 307 (S.D.N.Y. 1998).
[29] 29 C.F.R. § 1625.22(f) (1) (iii) (A) (2005).
[30] Id.
[31] Id. at § 1625.22(f) (1) (iii) (B).
[32] An example in the regulations describes eligibility as: “All persons in the Construction Division are eligible for the program.  All persons who are being terminated in our November RIF are selected for the program.” 29 C.F.F. § 1625.22(f)(4)(vii)(B). Some courts, however, interpret the term “eligibility factors” to mean the criteria, such as job performance, experience, or seniority, an employer relied on in deciding who to terminate.  See Pagilio v. Guidant Corp., 483F. Supp. 2d 847 (D. Minn. 2007)(the court held that a release violated OWBPA by, among other things, failing to identify the general criteria by which employees were selected for termination); but see Kruchowski v. Weyerhaeuser Co., 423 F.3d 1139, amended by, 446 F.3d 1090 (10th Cir. 2006)(the court invalidated a release of claims because it failed to identify selection criteria as “eligibility factors;” however, in a later, revised, opinion, the court omitted eligibility factors as one of the grounds for invalidating the release and held only that the employer violated OWBPA by failing to identify the decisional unit).

This page was last modified on July 15, 2009.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Former Intel CEO Paul S. Otellini Dies at Age 66

We just read the news that former CEO Paul Otellini passed away in his sleep Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, at the age of 66. For those of us who served with him at Intel Corp. before his retirement, we received the news with great sadness since Paul Otelini 's tenure at Intel Corp. was mostly marked with growth and prosperity for most company employees.

According to the official Intel Corp. press release, Otellini was born in San Francisco on Oct. 12, 1950, and remained a fan of the city all his life. He received a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of San Francisco in 1972 and an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley in 1974. He joined Intel in 1974 and served in a number of positions, including general manager of Intel's Peripheral Components Operation and the Folsom Microcomputer Division, and in 1989 as then-CEO Andy Grove's chief of staff.

From 1990 to 2002, he held various positions at Intel, including executive vice president and general manager of the Intel Architecture Group, responsible for the company's microprocessor and chipset businesses and strategies for desktop, mobile and enterprise computing, as well as executive vice president and general manager of the Sales (CRM) and Marketing Group. Otellini also served as chief operating officer from 2002 to 2005.

Paul and his wife, Sandy, were married for 30 years. He is survived by his wife; his son, Patrick; and his daughter, Alexis. Since he retired in 2013, Otellini dedicated time to mentoring young people and being involved with several philanthropic and charitable organizations, including the San Francisco Symphony and San Francisco General Hospital Foundation.

Our warm condolences to his family and his close friends.

--Dr. Flywheel

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Swan Lake or 1812 Overture?

In response to Mike Rogoway's article:
 Intel's CFO: 'We hate layoffs,' but 'we're trying to deal with reality here' 
 in Silicon Forest:

if your choice in Tchaikovsky's work is "Swan Lake", mine is the "1812 Overture", a major musical piece, signifying the disastrous defeat of Napoleon's army during the Russian winter battle of 1812. This defeat, marked the beginning of the end for the French empire under Napoleon and ended up with Napoleon's removal from the thrown and political life.

Painting of Napoleon in 1806
(click on image to enlarge)

Bombastic PR declarations by Swan (newly appointed Intel Corp. CFO) do not bring music to my ears, neither do they bring nirvana or change the reality for Intel Corp. for the coming years. Neither can these statements bring about a significant prospect of business growth to the company following the aftermath of Intel Corp. CEO's Napoleonic style of management, which accelerated the internal crumbling of a once great company.

Ever since BK took over the helm at Intel, the number of vice presidents has increased and the execution failure rate continued to accelerate. I attribute this to the stupid way in which the company laid off older and experienced people from its ranks. This typical organizational crumbling syndrome becomes routine in large companies where members of the "agent class" (of VPs and above),  are  too busy infighting and protecting their annual bonuses while never reading their email, overriding and/or ignoring their own technical/professional staff's advice, and focus their time mostly around PR campaigns.

If the picture is not clear, a well functioning company is built like a brick wall. While each individual brick carries part of the load, all the bricks function together to stabilize the structure and fulfill the utilitarian function of the building. However, bricks are not enough to keep the wall stable over time. A binding agent like mortar, attaches the bricks together and combine the individual properties of all the bricks, forming a large and resilient structure.

Experienced (and therefor older) workers are like the mortar in the wall. They know where things came from and where they should go. They have a better ability to distinguish false positives and chose mitigation actions when less than predictable events are encountered. Through experience they are able to identify problems quickly and improvise, if necessary, adding a large degree of operational resilience to a sometimes too stiff an organization.

By removing such workers from its ranks, Intel Corp. may have saved the occasional buck; however, it clearly lost significant operational capabilities and a critical built-in self-healing potential that relies on human experience.

Damage to the port side is visible as the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain
(click on image to enlarge)

After a number of U.S. Navy destroyers collided with merchant ships in the Pacific Ocean, the U.S. Navy fired the commander of the Seventh Fleet, Admiral Joseph Aucoin (https://news.usni.org/2017/08/22/u-s-7th-fleet-head-vice-adm-joseph-aucoin-removed-command-early-following-mccain-collision). This firing is an appropriate action for an organization that is intent on seeking positive ans swift improvement of its ability to function in an uncertain world. With so many operational failures, at Intel Corp. why is it that the Board of Directors does not fire its Napoleon? Are they waiting for the Siberian Winter?

--Dr. Flywheel

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Long Held Conspiracy Theory - Confirmed !

H1B Visa Conspiracy is No Longer Just for Breakfast

Many of us have witnessed the growing number of H1B workers joining our ranks in the technology companies where we work. Over the last decade it became clear to most of us that there is a systemic reason behind companies firing veteran tech workers who are 40+ and replacing them with imported cheaper workers. While tech companies continued to cry wolf, about shortage of qualified employees, they did not hesitate to get rid of a growing number of such employees out of their ranks and replace them with foreign workers who were willing to accept low compensation. Though this practice is perfectly legal under the current laws of the U.S., the ethical aspects of this practice are highly questionable. In addition the economic effect of sending qualified older workers into the street, have contributed to the ongoing decimation of the middle class in the U.S.

Until now, all of the above was common knowledge; however, besides bitching around the water cooler, not much has been done in terms of exposing all the facts in this matter. Bringing about a policy correction, regarding importation of foreign workers into the high tech sector was out of reach for U.S. workers because the corporate lobbies were able to get their way, by bribing our elected representatives, through political contributions.

However, recently more information is being brought to public attention, exposing the true nature of the H1B corporate conspiracy.  The information that is used to track H1B Visa transactions comes from U.S. Government sources, primarily the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and is open to the public

The Economic Policy Institute, an independent organization that kept track of H1B transactions over more than a decade, published a report that clearly demonstrates the fact that the H1B program was utilized by various participating companies for exploitation of cheap workforce, rather than for filling the void created by shortage of qualified American workers. You can read the report on the EPI web site at this link: Top 10 H-1B employers are all IT offshore outsourcing firms, costing U.S. workers tens of thousands of jobs.

Quartz India published another article on this same subject, entitled: New data on H-1B visas prove that IT outsourcers hire a lot but pay very little. This article dissects the USCIS data covering the H1B program transactions for 2016. The article presents a conclusive evidence that the H1B remained and is still functioning as a tool for employee exploitation in the high-tech sector.

With many politicians, including president Trump, proclaiming that it is time for our government to work for Americans, it is curious that no material changes for eliminating fraud and employee exploitation are seriously dealt with in the U.S. Congress and Senate. Apparently, the power of money on politics still prevails over the good and prosperity of the citizenry. Yet again, executive bonuses drive the motivation behind corporate policies and the middle class is left to carry the load.


Friday, July 14, 2017

News to Chew On
Is It Time To Replace the Intel Corp. CEO?

Apparently, the PR stunts by Intel Corp. executive management, orchestrated and led by Brian Krzanich, did not impress investors in a positive way. Beginning in May 2017, stock market capitalization of TSMC of Taiwan, surpassed that of Intel Corp, as the attached chart demonstrates.

(click on chart to enlarge)
It is now clear more than ever that executive management was not able to deliver the promised goods, including mass shipment of 10nm silicon products and that there is no end in sight to the execution problems that the company faces.

I have no doubt that the root of the company ailments have to do with executive incompetence, as well as the side effects of laying off a very large number of experienced employees during the 2015-2016 period. During this time executive managers continued to rip fat salaries and bonuses, however, the workforce became diluted of industry veterans who could have saved the day, with their wide knowledge and experience. The short-term gain that the company received through the massive layoffs paid back inversely, gutting the organization from the human capital that once kept the execution chains ticking 24/7/365. By replacing knowledgeable and experienced employees with much cheaper newbies, Intel Corp. executive management, sealed off all safety exits and set fire to the engine room. Highly speculative and very expensive external business acquisitions will not make up for the current Intel Corp. executive team's lack of ability to run a profitable business for the long run and therefore, successfully perform their duties to INTC stock holders.

Is Intel Corp. board acting as a rubber stamp, led by the nose by BK's daily whims? Perhaps they should wake up and find a CEO who is more into creating a functioning organization, rather than setting the stage for endless and mindless dog and pony shows that hardly phase the investors low opinion of the company's future.

Interestingly, Ashraf Eassa, who frequently writes commentary covering Intel Corp. is seeing the case for replacing BK, along lines similar to mine.
(see:   3 Signs Intel Corporation Needs New Management)

--Dr. Flywheel

7/30/2017 updates:

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Manager Training and memories of MTP (Managing Thru People)

July 2017

Long ago and far away, I and others had Intel front-line manager (FLM) training.

Courses: There were online and internal training courses that led to Mgr. paths.  Most were good, some not.  The best thing about the in-person courses was always meeting others as managers and discussing the situations that arose, and getting feedback and new perspectives on your own situations too.

MTP: A bunch of us wanna-be's and actuals went away for a week (to a place with great food!) and worked on how to be a better manager.  This was called "Managing Thru People" (don't snicker! That's the title. I still have the pin and lanyard.)  It really was about how not be an Individual Contributor, and how to do those skills of managing people.  It was a fun and challenging course, especially the project on the last day. The skills are different from being an engineer, and I've always respected those I worked with who were able to pull those off (shout out to you, DanD!)

But then MTP vanished.  And apparently some of the other manager training did too or was curtailed.  I was made aware of that by some recent anonymous posts by an Intel FLM (see references below). Seems like development paths for managers had taken a back seat.

IOPEC unfortunately that vanished a long time back in the early 90's. (IOPEC=Sr. VPs would go once or twice a year and give a 2-3 hour discussion and lecture in person, on how Intel works from their perspective.  AWE-some events for those who could attend them.)

So it was with some interest that I learned of Google's Project Oxygen back in 2009.  It started with the premise that, to paraphrase, "We don't need no stinkin' managers!"

But the actual conclusion they came to was kind of the opposite.  "We do need managers. And what if everyone had a Great Manager?"

Project Oxygen came up with 8 Rules and an upward feedback survey and much more, but I don't know how much they really still use it.  It would be interesting to hear that from inside Google.

The re:Work teams' copies of the Google Guides are a good place to start to get more details, and as a course of self-study.

  •  https://rework.withgoogle.com/guides/managers-develop-and-support-managers/steps/review-googles-new-manager-training/

If you want more, well I guess you can Google it! (-:    It's now part of Silicon Valley lore.

Bottom line: Managing is a different set of skills than you may have been trained for as a technical specialist.  (Chemist, Engineer, Programmer, Machinist, etc.)  Learn to recognize those who are great managers and maybe if they have helped you, and you can learn to help them too.  And if you choose at some point a management path, well get some of those skills solidly under your belt.   Heck, get them under your belt even if you DON'T follow a management career.  They can help you no matter what.  Learning to "Manage Up" is always a useful skill no matter what org you are in.

--Richard Vireday