I was offered a severance package from my employer. Do I have to accept it?
Regardless of the circumstances involved, knowing the steps to take after losing your job can be difficult. In many cases, an employer will present an employee with a severance agreement at the time of termination or several days afterward. Many employees feel pressured into signing these agreements and fail to take the time to understand the agreement’s implications. However, a terminated worker is not required to sign a severance agreement. Executing the document may have negative implications for any future legal claim that the employee wishes to bring. At Phillips & Associates, our New York City wrongful termination lawyers can help you navigate this situation. Before you sign a severance agreement, an attorney familiar with this area of the law can advise you.UNDERSTANDING THE IMPACT OF SIGNING A SEVERANCE AGREEMENT
If you have been terminated and received a severance agreement from your employer, it is critical to understand its terms before signing the document. Often, these agreements include complex provisions, legalese, and other phrasing that makes it difficult to understand what the agreement actually entails. Some severance agreements may include provisions that waive the employee’s right to sue the employer for any alleged conduct surrounding the employee’s termination. These provisions usually encompass conduct of which the employee is not aware at the time that he or she executes the severance agreement, giving the agreement an incredibly broad effect.
Another common provision in severance agreements is a non-compete clause, which restricts the terminated employee’s ability to work for a competitor or in the same industry as the former employer. In some cases, these terms also prohibit the employee from using any knowledge or experience that he or she gained while working for the former employer for another employer, including intellectual property that the employee developed. Some severance agreements provide the employee with severance compensation, but the financial impact of a non-compete clause can be far more damaging than any amount of severance pay.ASSERTING YOUR RIGHTS AS AN EMPLOYEE
In some situations, an employer may terminate an employee for legitimate business-related reasons like downsizing or redundancy. In other situations, however, an employer’s reasons for termination may involve prohibited discrimination based on gender, race, sexual orientation, national origin, or religion. An employer may also terminate an employee out of retaliation for something that the employee did, even though the action was lawful.
A number of federal, state, and local laws provide protections to employees against discrimination in the workplace, and employees who have suffered from such discrimination are entitled to compensation. If you believe that you have been terminated due to an employer’s discriminatory conduct, you should refrain from executing a severance agreement until you have consulted an experienced employment discrimination lawyer.DISCUSS YOUR WRONGFUL TERMINATION CLAIM WITH A NEW YORK CITY LAWYER
Knowing whether to accept a severance agreement and understanding the legal rights and remedies available to you can be complicated. At Phillips & Associates, our New York City wrongful termination attorneys take pride in providing personalized, compassionate, and diligent legal counsel to people throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, Long Island and Westchester. We offer a free consultation. If we believe you have a claim for discrimination, and accept your case, we only ask for a fee if we obtain a settlement or a judgment in your favor. We also review and negotiate settlement agreements and severance packages on an hourly fee bases. Call us at 212-248-7431 or contact us online to set up an appointment.
45 Broadway, Suite 620,
New York NY, 10006