Losing your job is a difficult and stressful experience for most people. As you start your job search, you may be presented with a severance agreement from your former employer offering additional pay and benefits in exchange for a release of legal claims against the company.
If you receive a severance agreement, it is wise to review it thoroughly so you understand the terms before you sign. Severance agreements often contain a sweeping release of claims, meaning you waive the right to bring legal action against the company relating to your employment. This could include unlawful termination based on discrimination or wrongful termination in violation of public policy, among other claims. The waiver will apply even if you were not aware a claim existed at the time you signed.
Some releases may incorporate previous non-competition or non-solicitation provisions you have with your former employer. These can impair your ability to work in your chosen field and may limit your ability to work with former clients.
A qualified employment lawyer can review the agreement with you and help explain the implications so you know exactly what you are signing. There may be deadlines for signing a severance agreement imposed by your former employer. However, the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (“OWBPA”) requires employers to provide employees who are least forty (40) years of age at least twenty-one (21) days to consider any such agreement. Do not feel rushed or pressured to approve an agreement.
While severance agreements provide value through bonus pay and benefits, it is critical to determine what you have to trade off in return. There are often alternatives to accepting a severance agreement if you understand your legal rights. A consultation with an employment lawyer from our firm can help you make an informed decision on how to move forward during this transition.
Please contact us to schedule a consultation regarding a severance agreement or any other employment law issues relating to your termination or departure from a job. We advise on all aspects of severance negotiations and wrongful termination claims.