Determining Whether Your Severance Package Is Fair
Losing a job can be very difficult. There are many decisions to be made, including whether or not to sign a severance or separation agreement. When you sign these agreements, you are giving up your right to pursue legal action against your employer in exchange for the money the employer is offering you. It may feel overwhelming at the moment, but some of the elements of your package that you need to review carefully include: considering the implications of noncompete clauses and other restrictions, ongoing obligations to the employer, payments for outstanding business expenses and unused paid time off (PTO), continuation of benefits and/or long-term disability benefits, and eligibility to receive unemployment compensation benefits.
When examining a severance or separation agreement, it is strongly advised that you consult with an attorney before signing anything. In addition, an attorney can help you determine whether you have potential employment law claims such as discrimination, harassment, retaliation, violations of leave laws, failure to accommodate, defamation, owed wages, and others.
The lawyers at Bertelson Law Office, P.A., have over 50 years of combined experience reviewing, evaluating and strategically negotiating severance agreements, separation agreements, buy-out packages, executive agreements and noncompete agreements. We offer a thorough review to help you determine how your particular situation would be impacted by signing, or if it would be appropriate to move forward with legal claims or with negotiating changes to the agreement, such as increasing the amount the employer is offering and language changes to the agreement. At Bertelson Law Office, P.A., you will receive personal service yet assertive advocacy of your rights.
What Steps Should I Take When Offered A Severance/Separation Package?
At the termination meeting, it is in your best interest to listen, stay calm, and pay close attention to what is being said. As upsetting as these meetings are, it will not help to yell. You do not want to storm out or threaten legal action. Doing so will not help with a lawsuit and may burn bridges. You want to have the smoothest exit possible.
1. Take notes about what is said during the meeting or, if you are not able to take notes during the meeting, write down what you remember being said after the meeting.
2. Ask the employer why you are being terminated. No matter the answer, do not argue. It is important to have a very good understanding of why you were selected so that you can share that information with us during a consultation.
3. If you are being terminated as part of a layoff, ask why you were selected for termination. Take notice of the other employees laid off and kept: Younger or older employees? Men or women? Race and ethnicity? Disabled? After the meeting, spend time reflecting on the employer’s rationale for selecting you in the layoff. Does it really make sense?
4. Ask the employer about next steps: When will I receive my final paycheck and vacation pay? When can I collect my personal items? When will I receive information about COBRA benefits? How do I turn in any badges, keys, or other company property?
5. Remember not to sign any type of separation agreement at the termination meeting. It is better to take documents home with you to review and calmly process.
If you have already signed a severance or separation package, in Minnesota, you have 7 days to rescind the agreement under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and 15 days to rescind the agreement under the Minnesota Human Rights Act. Be aware of requirements in the agreement related to rescission. It is also possible that the agreement you signed is invalid. During our consultation we could review that possibility.
To read our full article on SuperLawyers.com about severance packages, follow this link.
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*THIS MATERIAL IS EDUCATIONAL ONLY. IT DOES NOT CONSTITUTE AND SHOULD NOT SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE.