My employer just offered me a severance agreement. Should I accept it? What are my other options?

Before you accept this agreement (and likely sign away valuable rights to compensation), you should have this document thoroughly reviewed by our experienced employment attorneys.

Severance agreements are written by the employer’s attorneys. Even if you were able to negotiate your rights to benefits or financial compensation, the language is typically worded in the employer’s favor. Typically, employers offer a severance agreement when the circumstances of an employee’s termination may otherwise lead to litigation. This means if you ever had possible employment claims – for example, if you weren’t paid overtime or granted rest/meal breaks, among other deficiencies – you are agreeing to give up your right to seek compensation for those claims.

So the big question is: why would your employer rather pay you outright than have you take your claims to court? Often it is because it allows them to pay you less than you could win in litigation and to avoid unwanted publicity due to the litigation.

How can our employment and contract attorneys help when a severance agreement has been offered?

Our skilled employment contract lawyers have a combined 20+ years of experience helping clients get the compensation they deserve from their employers. Below are a number of ways we can assist you:

  1. Review and translate the agreement into plain language to ensure you aren’t being taken advantage of.
    • Employer’s attorneys often word agreements in certain ways to bind you to giving up rights you don’t realize are being signed away. Our lawyers can recognize this tricky wording and flag it for you to make sure you are only agreeing to the terms you mean to.
  2. Negotiate for a better severance offer on your behalf or suggest changes to the wording/terms to better protect your rights.
    • If you’d like, we can communicate back and forth with your employer on your behalf to make sure you aren’t harassed or pressured into an agreement you don’t want. We’ll keep you informed of negotiations as they happen and you can sit back and let us do the work for you.
    • If you’d prefer to do your own negotiations, we can also act as consulting counsel for you. We can point out red flag areas of the contract and suggest better terms.
  3. Review your employment experience for claims you could possibly get more money from if you pursued them in court.
    1. Severance agreements are typically drafted so the employer can pay you outright a lower sum for your employment/termination claims than you could win in a lawsuit. We can analyze the terms of your employment/termination and advise you on the likelihood of victory if you pursue your claims in court.
  4. Pursue your employment claims in court to get you the compensation you are entitled to receive.
    • With a combined 20+ years of experience in employment litigation, our powerhouse attorneys will draft a lawsuit, conduct discovery, appear in court, and represent you in all ways in an employment suit. Sometimes, pursuing claims in court can net you a higher settlement than the severance offer the employer gave you.

Is there any benefit for me in accepting the Severance Agreement?

There certainly can be! However, employer attorneys often try to take advantage of the layperson’s lack of knowledge regarding what they’re entitled to. Some of the benefits an employer may offer you are:

  1. Severance Payment
    1. This is a common term of severance agreements in which your employer will offer a lump-sum amount to represent your pay for a specified amount of time. Typically, this is not more than a couple months as it is meant to cover you until you find work elsewhere. However, what if there’s a pandemic or a job shortage and you are unable to find other work? This one-time payment could quickly not be able to cover you until you find another job.
  2. Unemployment Benefits
    • Your employer may agree not to dispute your claim for unemployment benefits by characterizing the end of your employment as a “resignation”. However, this may not be the benefit it seems. Employees who “voluntarily resign” are generally unable to obtain unemployment benefits anyways.
  3. Health Benefits
    • The employer may offer to continue making your COBRA or health insurance payments for a certain amount of time.
  4. Neutral Reference
    • The employer may offer a “neutral reference”, meaning that if they are contacted by your future potential employers, they will provide information without any positive/negative spin. This neutral information could be the dates of your employment or the job titles you held.

As you can see, while there may be some benefit to just accepting a severance offer outright, there are often hidden elements you will want to be aware of. Whether you want us to simply review your offer and advise you, or have us negotiate on your behalf, we will ensure your rights are protected and you are getting the greatest benefit possible in this stressful time.

Don’t leave money on the table, call (559) 431 – 4888 to set up a meeting with an attorney who can explain your legal options.

Contact Webb Law Group

If you would like to schedule a free, no-risk consultation with Webb Law Group, call 559.431.4888 or 619.399.7700 between 7am and 5:30pm Monday – Friday. You can also submit a request through our online form. If we cannot answer you inquiry immediately, we will be in touch within 24 hours.

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