How to Negotiate a Severance Agreement to Your Benefit
Negotiating the terms and conditions of a severance agreement is important for protecting your rights and interests. In some cases, companies attach restrictions to severance packages that impact a person’s ability to find new work, retain health care coverage or talk about certain things that happened at a company.
Before agreeing to a severance package, consulting an experienced employment law attorney can alert you to what a company can and cannot do and how you can leverage your interests. At The Rubin Law Corporation, our Los Angeles severance agreement attorneys review severance agreements, calling attention to terms and conditions that are not enforceable or contrary to your long-term interests. We also call attention to anything that is a clear violation of California or federal law.
If you are currently negotiating a severance agreement or are being asked to sign one, contact the lawyers in Los Angeles at The Rubin Law Corporation today to learn how we can help you. Call 310-385-0777 today.
When Should I Expect a Severance Agreement?
Your employer will want you to sign a severance agreement if they terminate you from a contracted position before the official end date. Most employment in the modern era is at-will. This means you work without a contract in place, and either party can end the employment for any reasons — or none — without penalty. Severance packages are typically nonexistent in at-will jobs.
When employers do use contracts, severance packages are standard if the employment ends before the contracted date. You may not receive a severance deal if you are terminated for some causes, particularly illegal actions like drug use, workplace violence, or sexual harassment, in exchange for quietly leaving your job. However, termination for most other factors, including poor judgment, personality conflicts, downsizing, corporate reorganization, or relocation require a severance payment, as outlined in your contract.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer to Negotiate My Severance Agreement?
A severance agreement lawyer can protect your personal interests and help you get a better settlement. With an experienced attorney on your side, you will be able negotiate a far better deal than you would alone.
Your lawyer will know what you should expect to receive, based on your experience level and former position, and can deal more effectively at a one-on-one level with your employer’s attorney. He or she will also be aware of the the strategies that attorney may use to try to save their employer money.
Your attorney will also help you avoid non-compete clauses or similar provisos that could keep you from working in your preferred industry for years.
Consider What Issues Are Addressed in a Severance Agreement
Our California severance agreement lawyers review and discuss the following issues and how they are addressed by the terms and conditions contained in a severance agreement:
- Health care coverage
- Stock options
- Length of pay
- Percentage of pay
- Obligation to train replacement
- Restrictions on speech
- Job search restrictions
- Restrictions on contacting current clients
What Is Included in a Severance Agreement?
Most severance agreements include a number of standard clauses. Some of them your attorney will renegotiate or have removed to protect you. Standard clauses may include those for:
A Severance Payment Statement
You should receive a certain amount of money whether you sign an agreement or not. Your lawyer will ensure you get that money and negotiate further payment if possible.
This section details unpaid wages, salary, and/or paid time off (PTO) your employer must pay you whether you sign an agreement or not.
This outlines any benefits you’ll continue to receive, such as COBRA medical benefits.
Your employer may demand you release any claims you hold against them. They may also want you to agree not to compete with them, which would limit your employment opportunities; give up monies owed, especially PTO benefits, vested stock options, or restricted shares; or pressure you not to request continuing benefits like COBRA. Have your attorney review and renegotiate or negate these clauses.
In this clause, your employer specifies that you not speak negatively about them to anyone. Your attorney can negotiate the same for you, specifying the information they can legally provide to your potential employers.
You agree there will be no deals or promises beyond those explicitly included in the agreement, as signed by both parties.
Your employer will demand you not use or adapt any of their unique technologies, intellectual properties, and anything else construed as proprietary. You must also return proprietary items you have been working with.
Your original contract may already include non-compete and non-solicit agreements. Your attorney may be able to modify those covenants to your benefit. If not, they can keep your employer from misusing them or expanding their scope after the fact.
Your employer may insist you keep your agreement’s details confidential. However, your attorney can negotiate exceptions or “carve-outs” that let you discuss it with family, tax advisors, and attorneys, and so you can respond to legal subpoenas.
This provision requires you to cooperate with your employer in any legal proceedings or investigations, though your attorney may be able to scale your cooperation back from “full” to “reasonable.”
We Can Help Negotiate a Fair Severance Agreement
It’s bad enough to lose your job. It’s worse to be taken advantage of afterward. Let us help by negotiating the best possible severance agreement for you.
Regardless of whether you are negotiating a severance agreement as part of a larger employment contract or are evaluating your options after being offered an early retirement package, we can help you protect what is in your interest. To schedule an appointment and discuss your situation, contact the Los Angeles severance lawyers at The Rubin Law Corporation today; call 310-385-0777.