We represent current and former employees in connection with severance negotiations. For many employees who have been involuntarily terminated or who need to get out of a bad employment situation, receiving severance pay and other benefits to help bridge the gap until they obtain new employment is crucial. While employers generally are not required by law to pay employees severance pay or benefits upon termination of the employment relationship, many do under severance benefit plans or employment agreements or pursuant to company custom and practice. We also leverage our clients' potential legal claims against their employers to persuade them to provide our clients with severance packages in lieu of litigating in court.
Severance packages vary depending on the employer and the needs of the employee, but generally include one or more of the following: (1) severance pay either in a lump sum or in payments over time; (2) continuation of health insurance and other benefits at the employer's expense; (3) payments into the employee's retirement or pension account and/or timing the employee's separation to maximize retirement benefits; and (4) outplacement support with professional agencies and/or the employer's cooperation with the employee's job search including favorable or neutral references, networking and transition assistance, and the use of employer phones and e-mail.
When an employer offers an employee severance pay or other benefits, the employer almost always asks the employee to sign a release or waiver of claims in exchange whereby the employee promises not to pursue any legal claims against the employer. These release or waiver agreements are drafted by employers' attorneys with the employers' interests in mind and involve the employee giving up important rights. Therefore, any employee offered any severance should consult with counsel before signing any release or waiver agreements or other severance-related documents.
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