The termination certification has me state I've returned all equipment (I have), that I haven't broken my mobile device (was never issued one), and that I'll continue to be bound by various rules in our handbook after leaving the company (it contains things like a non-compete that lasts four years after leaving the company).

Do I have to sign it?

I looked online and it seems like they can't withhold my paycheck, and I don't see any advantage to me in signing. In addition, there are things in the handbook none of us particularly like, and this seems like a way of making sure we can't contest it, even after we leave. I'd rather not sign something that says I agree to be bound by it after I leave.

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    Which jurisdiction are you located in? A 4 year non-compete seems excessive. Commented Jul 27, 2019 at 14:05
  • I live in NY state. We got acquired this year, which is when these rules went into effect.
    – mkdir
    Commented Jul 27, 2019 at 14:14
  • If it said in your contract that you must agree to additional terms on completion of your employment or you won't get paid, it's very unlikely that will hold up in court. Commented Jul 27, 2019 at 14:22
  • 1
    Four years ! they of course are paying you for these four years Commented Jul 27, 2019 at 16:38
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    @JoeStrazzere No, there is no severance pay. I do have a final paycheck and also commission, but as far as I know those are not contingent on signing this letter.
    – mkdir
    Commented Jul 27, 2019 at 18:48

3 Answers 3


No. Unless they are offering something in return, do not sign it.

Withholding paychecks until you agree to additional terms is akin to extortion and is probably illegal.

The reason they want you to sign it is to restrict your rights for the benefit for the company. They may say that you are just agreeing what is already in the contract. If that is the case, then there is no point signing the agreement. If that is not the case, then it is not in your best interests to sign the agreement. In either case, for you there is nothing to gain.

If you have ambitions to return to the company in the future, this does potentially change things.

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    @JoeStrazzere What do you mean it can't happen? Commented Jul 27, 2019 at 15:56
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    @JoeStrazzere: it still happens, although I would suggest he changes the wording to say it is illegal, not that it is akin to extortion.
    – jmoreno
    Commented Jul 27, 2019 at 22:59
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    @JoeStrazzere: not worry about, but it doesn’t hurt to say it’s illegal. Not everyone knows that, including some (generally smaller) employers.
    – jmoreno
    Commented Jul 28, 2019 at 0:03

It's your choice whether you sign the contract. You're leaving the company, so the only leverage they have is your future relationship with them - if you want to be rehired, or if you want to use them as a reference. With that said, even if you don't sign, they can't lie in order to disparage you, so if you don't care about the people you might piss off by not signing they have effectively no leverage. You could try to negotiate with them for some kind of severance payment in exchange for signing, or if you want to affirm that you have returned all their assets without agreeing to the handbook you can send them a certified letter affirming that you have returned the assets.

As you stated, the money you are owed for working for them is yours, they can't withhold it to get you to sign something. You should check if your original employment contract has the same stipulation about the handbook - if it does, you're still bound by it. Since you commented that the handbook was updated significantly after you started, though, you may be able to get out of the parts added to it. If you want to go down that route, you should get a consultation with an employment attorney.


Most of these "certifications" are you acknowledging that you haven't kept anything which belongs to the company, and that you are aware of those things in the "employee handbook" which apply to your situation.

I don't believe these "certifications" are valid as a form of contract, which requires (more or less) and offer and acceptance in exchange for a consideration. Your pay is yours, you are legally entitled to it under most employment law, so that isn't the consideration. The question would be "what is the consideration?" and what are you being offered in exchange for it? I mean, you kinda quit.

All that said, I always sign them. Any enforceable terms of your original employment agreement remain enforceable, and any laws which apply to such things as receiving your pay and not stealing your laptop, are also enforceable. There's pretty much not a lot new going on here. Almost all non-compete clauses are unenforceable, except for people like executives. If you were a Java programmer working on time dilated migratory widgets, and there is some other company which makes such a thing, you aren't "competing". If you invented such a thing (what the Hell does it even DO???), you don't get to go to some other company and explain all the things you did at the previous job.

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