Our employment attorneys have successfully negotiated hundreds of severance agreements for employees.  Before you decide whether to have our firm negotiate your severance, we suggest that you utilize our flat-rate review and meeting/conference call to determine whether we believe that you have leverage to increase the amount of severance being offered to you.  The meeting will let us know whether you may want to hire us to negotiate your severance agreement.  In the event that you retain our firm to negotiate the severance on your behalf, we will deduct the flat-rate charged from the fee.

The majority of the time we suggest that our clients use the specific changes that we provide them as part of the flat-rate review and negotiate on their own.  However, if we believe that we could increase the amount of the severance payment and the types of benefits and that our services would be value added, we may suggest that you retain us to negotiate the agreement for you.  We will discuss with you the various options in retaining our firm to negotiate your severance.  You will be surprised how many times we have met with individuals, even other attorneys, who were not aware of the numerous items that could be changed and the additional benefits that could be received through negotiating your severance.

Being Terminated is Scary.

You have been called to HR and informed that you are being terminated or are part of a reduction-in-force.  This is an intimidating and scary meeting.  During that meeting, you may be presented with a severance agreement.  Some employers will pressure you to sign it immediately.  Be careful and ask for time to review it.  If you are over the age of 40, you will likely waive certain rights that will allow you to consider the agreement for either 21 or 45 days, depending on the size of the layoff, and 7 days to revoke after signing the severance.  Take advantage of this time to have the agreement reviewed and possibly negotiated.  At first glance, you may think the agreement is standard and everyone else has signed it….Don’t do that.   Nothing is standard and everything could possibly be changed to make it fair for both you and the employer. Our experienced employment lawyers will review your severance agreement and work on your behalf to negotiate the best terms possible for you.  We will keep you constantly informed of what we are doing and the progress being made to take away any uncertainties.  We will also remove any fear that you may have of speaking with your former employer, manager or colleagues – we will handle all communications with the company if we are negotiating on your behalf.

Whether you are losing your job due to broad changes and layoffs, or you are being asked to leave with a severance package due to mismanagement or other missteps, an employer will offer a severance package in order to protect themselves.  You must understand that no agreement would be offered if there is nothing in it for them.  Therefore, it is important to view such agreements as a fluid negotiation process and not a one-time offer.  If your employer will benefit from the agreement, then it is in your best interest to make sure that your benefits are sufficient enough to outweigh anything you may have to give up.

Ask for time.

While your HR department may ask you to immediately sign a severance agreement, it is your right to ask for time to review and consider their offer before signing.  You should be permitted time to review the agreement at home and if you are over the age of 40 and waiving various claims, you will have between 21 and 45 days to consider the agreement.   Do not rush into anything because you are waiving very important rights.   Once you ask for this time, get the paperwork to your lawyer right away so they can best use the time to negotiate the terms.

Ask for more.

Chances are, the initial severance agreement presented to you is a company standard, and not one tailored to you specifically and does not provide you with any compensation for a potential lawsuit that you would be waiving.  You may have been harassed at work or subjected to a hostile work environment.  You should receive more than “standard” severance in return for not filing a lawsuit against the company.  You have the ability to request changes and additions during a negotiation that you would miss out on if you sign too soon.  Besides the obvious request of asking for more money, there are other items you could suggest in your negotiation.

Asking to delay your last day in order to add more experience and history to your record is common. Asking to be paid for any unused vacation time makes sense, as well.  If your company had you using equipment like a laptop and cell phone, you can also request to keep those items in your name after you leave. With the job market in dire straits, you could also ask for employment counseling, office resources to assist you with your job search and the freedom to speak with management to ask for job recommendations as well.

Understand specifics.

All severance agreements will contain legal terms and language that are best translated by an experienced employment attorney.  You should seek legal counsel in order to protect you and get you the most gain for your cooperation, while not undermining basic benefits to which you are already entitled.  Please call us today to begin the process.

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