If you are being offered a severance package, it is important to have an employment lawyer review your agreement before you sign. Your agreement was written by your employer (or its legal counsel), and this means that it was not written with your best interests in mind.
If your employer is offering you a severance agreement, the most important question you need to ask is this: “Why?” Even if you have a general idea – for example, if you were mistreated or deprived of your rights at work and your employer is attempting to buy your silence – you need to dig deeper to make sure you know exactly what it will mean for you to sign. Maybe you negotiated the financial terms of your severance. Maybe you even negotiated the right to keep your benefits for a period of time. But, the agreement clearly addresses much more than just compensation. So, why exactly is it so long?
Employers only offer severance agreements when there is something in it for them. In fact, they will typically only offer severance agreements when the benefits of signing outweigh the risks of moving forward without an agreement in place. If your employer has offered you a severance package, why is this the case? Is it because you would likely win more if you took your claim to court?
The severance agreement and negotiation attorneys at Custis Law, P.C. will explain the terms of the agreement to you in plain language, recommend changes to the agreement, advise you if there is room to negotiate for a better deal and negotiate on your behalf. With 20 years of litigation experience, Los Angeles employment lawyer Keith Custis will also identify potential legal claims you may have against your employer and help ensure that you are not being coerced into an unfair deal. In some cases, those legal claims can provide leverage to negotiate a better deal. In others, we will recommend that you assert the claims against your employer in a lawsuit.
To ensure you get the best severance agreement possible and to protect your rights, contact a skilled employment contract lawyer at Custis Law, P.C. at (213) 863-4276 to schedule a free consultation today.
If you are in need of a Contract and Severance Lawyer, contact Custis Law, P.C. today for a free consultation.
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What is a Severance Agreement?
A severance agreement is a binding contract entered into between an employer and employee at the termination of employment. Severance agreements are not mandatory, but rather are used strategically by employers to mitigate their liability when an employee leaves under circumstances that could lead to litigation. Whether you have experienced harassment, discrimination, or another violation of your rights, your employer’s goal in offering a severance agreement is typically twofold: (i) to pay less than they would pay in litigation, and (ii) to avoid unwanted publicity.
How Can an Employment Contract and Severance Lawyer Help?
With these considerations in mind, an employment attorney will be able to help with your severance agreement negotiations in a number of important ways. For example, an experienced severance lawyer will be able to:
1. Determine What Constitutes Adequate Compensation
Is your employer actually offering adequate compensation in light of the circumstances surrounding the termination of your employment? If not, how much more should you demand? If you sign your severance agreement, this will be your “one bite at the apple,” and you will not be able to seek additional compensation later on.
2. Help You Understand the Non-Compensation-Related Provisions of the Agreement
What’s in it for your employer? What rights are you giving up? Are you taking on any affirmative obligations? Before you accept any severance package, you need to have a clear and complete picture of what you are giving up in exchange.
3. Evaluate Your Potential Recovery in Litigation
If you were to take your case to court, what are your chances of success? How much could you potentially recover? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you make an informed decision about what constitutes a fair settlement of your claim.
4. Propose Revised Language that Better Protects You
Let’s just assume that the agreement is one-sided in favor of your employer, since this is probably the case. What language can be proposed that will adequately protect your financial interests while giving your employer what it needs to accept the deal?
5. Represent You in Severance Package Negotiations with Your Employer
What is the best way to approach negotiation of your severance agreement? How should you respond if your employer counters your counteroffer? In order to maximize your chances of success in negotiations, you need to have a knowledgeable and experienced advocate on your side. We can negotiate directly with your employer, or advise you so that you can negotiate with your employer.
What are the Provisions of a Severance Agreement that Benefit the Employee?
In exchange for these benefits, the employer must offer something of adequate value to the employee – and this is one area where employers often try to use their employees’ lack of information to their advantage. If you are being offered a severance and your options are to accept or try your luck in court, your employer knows that: (i) you probably don’t know what your case is really worth, and (ii) you probably don’t know what your chances of success are if you move forward with severance package negotiation or a civil lawsuit.
In this scenario, what does a savvy employer do? It offers a severance package that is likely to be just enough to entice a settlement, but which is actually far less than the full amount to which the employee would be legally entitled in litigation.
Typically, a severance package will include some or all the following:
Severance Payment: A lump-sum settlement or a continuation of your salary for a specified period of time.
Unemployment: Your employer may agree not to dispute your claim for unemployment benefits. If the agreement characterizes the end of your employment as a “resignation,” the employer should agree not to dispute your unemployment claim. Employees who voluntarily resign generally are not able to obtain unemployment benefits.
Benefits: Your employer may agree to make your COBRA payments for a specified period of time.
Neutral Reference: Your employer may agree to only provide neutral references to potential employers (i.e. the dates of your employment and the position(s) you held).
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Have Your Severance Agreement Reviewed by an Employment Contract and Severance Lawyer
You should know what you’re agreeing to before you sign an employment agreement or severance agreement. Our employment law attorney can help you cut through the legalese and advise you whether your employer has offered a good deal or whether you can negotiate for better terms.
If you have been offered a severance package, or even if you have recently signed a severance agreement, contact us online or (213) 863-4276 to schedule a free consultation.
Contact Custis Law, P.C.
If you would like to schedule a free, no-risk consultation with Custis Law, P.C., call (213) 863-4276 or submit a request through our online form. If we cannot answer you inquiry immediately, we will be in touch within 24 hours.