In a warning to over-reaching defense attorneys, an Administrative Law Judge has refused to approve a proposed whistleblower retaliation settlement agreement because it “is so overbroad as to contravene public policy.”

The Agreement attempted to release “both corporate and individual respondents of all claims known and unknown of any and every kind,” and included a draconian “hold harmless on any taxes” clause. Moreover, the proposed Agreement included a confidentiality clause in contravention of the Department of Labor’s policy mandating public access to its files.  As a result, the Judge ordered the attorneys to submit a narrower settlement agreement or go to trial.

Although this arose in a STAA whistleblower case, the ALJ’s concerns equally apply to overreaching releases in Federal Rail Safety Act cases. Here is the ALJ’s full Order Disapproving Settlement Agreement.