Details murky for coming 8,000 white collar GM layoffs

Image 1 of 3

You've heard about the General Motors layoffs looming for at least 6,000 hourly workers. 

Many of them may have a chance to work at other factories where there's a need. But for the 8,000 white collar workers, it's a much different story.  

"If severance is offered, General Motors may seek in exchange for that severance, a promise from that employee not to sue, to release all claims," said Deborah Brouwer of Nemeth Law.

And you'll have 45 days to make a decision. If you sign the severance deal you erase the right to sue, she said.

Brouwer is a labor law attorney and says mid-level managers are likely sifting through their employee lists and making tough decisions as layoffs are expected in a matter of weeks.  

For those who aren't being re-envisioned, their job may be eliminated. But is there a red flag attached to your pink slip.  An attorney who represents yes employees says older employees should think hard about what's happening in their office.  

"Everything was great for the first 29 years of their employment," said attorney Jennifer Lord. "Good performance evaluation, raises every year and then in the last year, let's say a younger supervisor or manager comes in and all of a sudden that employee's performance is terrible and they are put on an improvement plan. That person really needs to talk to a lawyer."

But litigation may not be a convenient choice for all white collar workers. You have to see your own financial picture before thinking about lawsuits. 

"The first question I ask a potential client is, can you afford not to take this proposal?" Lord said. "If families basically are living paycheck to paycheck and they offer a six-month package, that's pretty much a no brainer I would tell that person to take the package."

Mary Barra, doesn't report to the government, or her employees.  The choices she's making now is because she's serving at the pleasure of the board of directors looking out for a bottom line riding on a very different future.  

"They're not selling sedans anymore," Brouwer said. "Those folks are going to be let go and the money saved from that will be put into the areas where GM hopes to achieve success in the future."