P O BOX 8126, MADISON, WI 53708-8126 (608/266-9850)

MICHAEL W MELTZ, Complainant


ERD Case No. CR200001526, EEOC Case No. 26GA01300

An administrative law judge (ALJ) for the Equal Rights Division of the Department of Workforce Development issued a decision in this matter. A timely petition for review was filed.

The commission has considered the petition and the positions of the parties, and it has reviewed the evidence submitted to the ALJ. Based on its review, the commission agrees with the decision of the ALJ, and it adopts the findings and conclusion in that decision as its own.


The decision of the administrative law judge (copy attached) is affirmed.

Dated and mailed December 27, 2001
meltzmi . rsd : 125 : 9

/s/ David B. Falstad, Chairman

/s/ James A. Rutkowski, Commissioner


Complainant Michael Meltz petitions for a review of the ALJ's decision dismissing his complaint of alleged arrest record and disability discrimination. The ALJ concluded that Meltz had waived his claims against the respondent in light of a prior Agreement of Resignation and Release that he had entered into with the respondent.

Under the Agreement signed by Meltz on April 6, 2000, he irrevocably and unconditionally released the respondent from any and all claims arising prior to the signing of the Agreement, including without limitation any and all claims by him that the respondent ever committed any statutory violation or other wrong with respect to him relating to or arising out of his employment or his resignation under any statute including, but not limited to the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act.

In his petition for review Meltz makes various claims in connection with a "Last Chance Agreement" under which he had been employed with the respondent, including whether or not he had violated that Agreement. Meltz' claims in connection with the Last Chance Agreement, however, arose in connection with his employment with the respondent and are therefore foreclosed based on the Agreement of Resignation and Release he entered in with the respondent on April 6, 2000.

Meltz objects to the validity of the Agreement of Resignation and Release, however. Meltz asserts that he signed the April 6 Agreement "under duress" because in March 2000 he had been told by the respondent either resign or he would be terminated, and because he needed to care for his family and pay their bills. Further, Meltz asserts that he has no legal knowledge and was "not of clear mind."

The totality of the circumstances demonstrates that the Agreement of Resignation and Release is valid. Under the Agreement the respondent agreed to provide Meltz with group health insurance benefits for three months as consideration for signing the Agreement. He was given three weeks to examine the Agreement before signing it, and, after signing it, another week to change his mind and rescind it. He was encouraged to review the Agreement with a representative of his choice prior to signing it, and he in fact did consult an attorney prior to signing it.

Meltz' claims of duress, lack of legal knowledge and not being of clear mind fail. Meltz had the opportunity to and did consult with an attorney prior to electing to sign the Agreement. The mere fact that Meltz found himself in financial difficulties does not constitute duress. See, Pope v. Ziegler, 127 Wis. 2d 56, 60, 377 N.W.2d 201 (Ct. App. 1985); Kaufer v. Miller Brewing Co. (LIRC, 11/19/93).

The record shows that there was a knowing and voluntary waiver of rights under the WFEA by Meltz.

cc: Attorney Ellen Totzke

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