Why You Need a Lawyer to Review Your Severance Package

Losing your job can disrupt your entire life in an instant. Your job provided security for you and any loved ones dependent on you. You might not be sure how long it will be before you can find another position. While it won’t fully eliminate the stress of losing your job, a severance package can help get you by after being terminated. However, it might not come with all the benefits you expected or could make finding new employment more difficult. Moreover, making mistakes can lead to further stress. This is where a proven severance attorney can help.

What is a Severance Package?

Upon being presented with a severance package by your employer, one of the first questions to pop into your mind will probably be, “Should I sign a severance agreement?” You may also wonder if it is negotiable.

To make an informed decision, you should first know what a severance package is. Your severance package is an agreement between you and your employer that provides certain benefits upon your termination. Essentially, it offers you money in exchange for signing a release in which you waive any claims you may have against the employer or company. However, your employer is likely going to set up an agreement that favors them, not you.

If this doesn’t seem fair to you, you must ask a severance attorney in New York to review your documents, and if necessary, negotiate them for you.

Employers may extend additional perks, such as life and disability insurance, as well as access to company resources such as laptops, cell phones, or vehicles. Some even provide outplacement assistance to support transitioning employees in finding new opportunities.

Companies typically outline their severance package policies in the employee handbook; however, it’s crucial to note that handbooks may require periodic updates, and the terms are open to negotiation. It’s important to understand that severance packages aren’t mandatory and may not be feasible in financially strained situations.

Individuals facing severance decisions may benefit from consulting a severance attorney and considering whether their package is negotiable before signing it.

Why Should You Consult with Severance Packages Lawyers in New York?

Severance agreements are often filled with legal landmines that are difficult to navigate, but they can also yield big payouts. It all depends on how much leverage your employer believes you have. Hiring a competent lawyer can help you avoid the consequences of severance pay mistakes, review the records, and discuss whether the agreement is fair to you.

For example, if your employer refuses to pay your wages until you sign the agreement, contact an attorney. We will help you sidestep mistakes as well as negotiate and defend your right to a proper salary. It is entirely illegal for an employer to withhold earned wages even after you have been terminated.

If your severance package isn’t what you think you deserve, you don’t have to sign it. Instead, contact a skilled lawyer who will review your package and negotiate for better terms. Severance package lawyers in New York can also:

Ensure a Severance Agreement is Necessary

Some employees might not actually need to sign a severance agreement to receive their pay. When you took your job, you likely signed an employment contract that both you and your employer were expected to uphold. Some employment contracts include the severance pay you’re entitled to, so you and your employer could have already agreed to this amount.

So, if you’re wondering, “Should I have a lawyer review my employment contract?”, the answer is yes. A lawyer can review these documents to ensure signing an agreement is necessary.

Calculate the Amount You Deserve

The amount your severance package offers might not encompass everything your employer owes you. Most packages typically offer one to two weeks’ pay for every year you’ve been with the company. However, those with managerial or executive positions within a company may receive more than this.

In addition to your salary, your employer should also pay any money they currently owe you, such as your unused vacation time. Companies may try to give as little as they can, but you deserve more than this. A skilled lawyer in New York can help ensure there are zero severance pay mistakes and that you receive an adequate payment.

Review What Benefits You’ll Receive

Are you asking yourself, “Should I sign a severance agreement before consulting a lawyer?” The answer is: No. The discontinuation of benefits provided by your job can be a huge loss. In addition to severance pay, you could continue to receive some of your benefits. Your severance package may include this already, or it could be something that you want to negotiate for to be included. For example, some might have lost health insurance when they were terminated and may be able to continue receiving it until finding new employment.

Protect Your Future Job Opportunities

Naturally, one of the first things on your mind after losing your job is finding a new one. However, your job search might be limited due to the stipulations of your severance agreement. The agreement may include a non-compete agreement that prevents you from working with the company’s competitors. This aspect of your agreement needs to be carefully reviewed by experienced attorneys in New York to ensure you aren’t hurting your future job opportunities.

Allow You to Take Legal Action

Fortunately, not everyone needs to take legal action against their employer, so this isn’t always something to worry about. However, if you experienced employment discrimination or any other unlawful behavior at your workplace, you may be interested in taking legal action against them.

Severance packages may require you to waive your right to sue your employer when you accept them. If you’re considering taking legal action against your employer, you need a seasoned negotiation lawyer to review the document to know what rights you’re giving up.

Provide Future References

In many agreements, you may find information regarding non-disparagement and references. This means that you agree not to speak or post negatively about the company, but it also refers to their treatment of you. After losing your job, you may be worried about future job opportunities and seeking a reference. If it’s not already included in the severance agreement, knowledgeable attorneys in New York can negotiate to ensure you’ll still receive positive references.

Review Confidentiality Agreements

Accepting a severance package could mean agreeing to a certain level of confidentiality. However, others may need to know the terms and conditions of what you’re agreeing to in certain situations. For example, this information could be important to share with a spouse or financial advisor. Are individuals like this exempt from your confidentiality agreement, or could you be breaching your agreement without realizing it?

Working with a severance package negotiation lawyer can help you understand who you can discuss this information with and negotiate if you need to share this information with certain parties.

Should I Sign a Severance Agreement?

Navigating severance agreements, especially for long-serving or higher-paid employees, can be as significant as buying a house. It’s a major financial transaction, often involving a substantial lump sum or periodic payments with various conditions.

Similar to consulting a realtor and home inspector when purchasing a house, engaging a severance attorney is crucial. Termination is inherently stressful and can cloud your judgment. Employees, facing the loss of a vital relationship, may struggle to assess fair severance terms. Seek legal counsel to avoid severance pay mistakes and negotiate a fair agreement.

Are Severance Packages Negotiable?

When considering a severance package, know that negotiations are possible. Take advantage of the 21-day window to carefully assess the agreement. Familiarize yourself with industry standards and company norms, especially for your management level or experience. Key elements open to negotiation include:

  • The amount of pay
  • The method of pay
  • Healthcare coverage
  • Termination date
  • Retirement plan or stock option vesting
  • Additional services like outplacement or job training

If you’re uncertain about signing any document, consult a severance attorney.

Should I Have a Lawyer Review My Employment Contract?

Contracts are often filled with vague and confusing legal jargon. Since you may find it difficult to comprehend everything on your own, it’s a good idea to have a severance package lawyer in New York read through your employment contract before you sign the dotted line. An attorney can help you better understand the terms of your employment, negotiate any conditions you disagree with, and ensure the contract is fair and beneficial to you.

Why You Need an Experienced Severance Package Attorney

Being let go from a job can be incredibly stressful and devastating. Avoid being taken advantage of during this chaotic time by working with severance package lawyers in New York.

Aside from the value of the package, there are several clauses in severance agreements that you should be aware of. Our attorneys in New York can help rewrite or remove unfavorable clauses or request additional compensation for retaining them. The goal is to defend your rights and safeguard your interests right from the get-go. Remember, employers are out to protect themselves, not you.

A severance package negotiation lawyer can also catch any mistakes that might negatively impact your entitlements.

Contact the Experienced Severance Package Attorneys at Bantle & Levy

Your severance package should benefit you, not hurt your future. A severance package attorney in New York will review your package, advise you on whether or not to sign, and negotiate on your behalf. The attorneys at Bantle & Levy LLP work with employees, including those at the C-suite and executive level, to help them get the best outcome.

Contact Bantle & Levy LLP today to learn more about how we can help.

Bantle & Levy

Lee Bantle is a partner at Bantle & Levy LLP. He has extensive legal expertise, admitted to the bars of the U.S. District Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals. With a distinguished academic background and clerkship experience, he has been recognized as a top-rated civil rights attorney and esteemed lawyer. In addition to his successful career, he has actively contributed to various legal organizations and serves as a faculty member for NYU's Annual Workshop on Employment Law for Federal Judges.

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