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Severance Agreements

Severance Agreements / Separation Agreements

If you are faced with termination of your employment, your employer may have presented you a severance agreement to review and sign. Before you do, it is a good idea to contact a New York severance agreement attorney in order to protect your rights.

Your employer may desire to terminate your employment for any number of reasons. Employment in New York and other neighboring states is generally on an at-will basis, which means that employers are free to fire employees at any time, with or without cause. Sometimes the employer may seek to fire an employee because of business reasons, such as downsizing or redundancy in the position. Other times, the firing may turn on the employee's performance. In some cases, employers seek to fire employees for discriminatory reasons, in retaliation, or because of other improper motives.

Employers often present employees who are being terminated with a severance or separation agreement. These agreements are often complex, multi-page documents which are contracts between the employer and employee, and which limit the ability of the employee to bring any subsequent claim for discrimination, retaliation, harassment or other improper employer conduct. Often the employer will bury terms in the fine print or use legal jargon that is difficult to understand, resulting in a document that is incomprehensible to a non-lawyer Faced with the inevitability of firing, and perhaps given the incentive of the payment of some small amount of money if the employee signs the agreement, many employees enter into severance agreements without a full understanding of their rights.

A Severance Agreement May Substantially Affect Your Ability to Find Work

Severance agreements can have important impacts on workers. One term that is included in any standard severance agreement is an agreement by the employee not to sue the employer, now or in the future. This means that, even if you believe the employer is firing you for an improper reason, has otherwise violated the law in its conduct towards you, or if you learn later on of improper conduct by the employer, you no longer can bring a legal claim against the employer. If you do not understand all of your rights as an employee, it is dangerous to blindly restrict your ability to make a claim in the future. It is a much better idea to speak to an attorney so that you understand your options in advance.

Severance agreements can also restrict your ability to work. Many such agreements contain "non-compete" clauses, providing that the employee may not work for a competitor, or may not work in the same type of business, or may not perform similar work in the same geographic area. These agreements can also restrict an employee from using those things he has learned on the job, or even from using intellectual property he has developed himself outside the company. Non-compete agreements can be very detrimental to a fired employee, with long-term financial impacts that far outweigh the benefit of any minor severance payment.

Contact Experienced New York Employment Law Attorneys at Phillips & Associates

If you are faced with termination and a proposed severance agreement, you should consult with an experienced New York settlement agreement attorney. An attorney can advise you of your rights, including what rights you are giving up by signing an agreement. A severance agreement attorney can also potentially help you negotiate more favorable terms of severance. At Phillips & Associates, we have significant experience with a wide range of settlement agreements. We know your rights,

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