Losing a job is not a life circumstance many wishes to think about. However, even if you are a strong employee, you must be prepared for the possibility that you will one day be let go for reasons that may not be due to your performance. For example, perhaps your employer is struggling financially and needs to downsize or eliminate certain departments.
If your employer lets you go, they will typically offer a severance package. Although the specific details of the severance agreement can vary on a case-by-case basis, in general, a severance package will ensure you continue receiving wages and certain benefits for a period of time. In exchange, by signing a severance agreement, you will agree not to take legal action against your employer or make any harmful public statements about them.
In some instances, an employee is given the opportunity to review a severance agreement when they first sign on with a company. That said, it is often the case that an employee is presented with a severance agreement upon the termination of their employment.
This can put an employee at a disadvantage. They may feel they have to sign the severance agreement immediately to ensure they receive the benefits it offers.
This is not necessarily the case. Employees should be aware of the fact that they can negotiate with their employers to modify the terms of a severance agreement.
There are various reasons why you may benefit from negotiating with your employer when they offer a severance package. That said, if you lack experience with severance agreement negotiations, you may find it difficult to convince your employer to make any adjustments you believe are necessary. Additionally, you might not know which details and provisions to look for when reviewing the terms of a severance agreement.
To optimize your chances of negotiating a severance package that is fair and appropriate, it is wise to enlist the help of an employment law attorney who specializes in these matters. The following are just a few potential advantages doing so may yield:
Ensuring you continue to receive benefits
Some people are content with benefits packages that involve continued payment of wages for several weeks or months after they lose their jobs. However, it can be argued that health benefits and similar employment perks are just as valuable as wages. A lawyer may help you secure these benefits as well.
Removing unenforceable provisions and clauses
Although not particularly common, there are instances when some employers will include provisions in severance agreements that aren’t enforceable. However, if an employee does not know they are not enforceable, they may abide by these provisions, believing that they have to once they sign an agreement.
For example, in California, it is difficult for an employer to legally enforce a noncompete clause. Your attorney will alert you to such clauses and provisions if they find them in a severance agreement.
Allowing you to take legal action
In some circumstances, it is not advisable for an employee to sign a severance agreement. In the short term, they may benefit by continuing to receive wages. That said, signing a severance agreement will usually involve waiving the right to sue an employer for wrongful termination or other such matters in the future.
You don’t necessarily want to give up your right to take legal action against an employer if you have a valid reason to bring them to court. An attorney can review your situation and the terms of your severance agreement to help you better understand whether signing is truly in your best interests.
Contact a Los Angeles employment law attorney at JML Law for more information on this topic. We have extensive experience helping workers throughout the area negotiate with their employers for fair severance packages. Learn more about how we can help by contacting us online or calling us today at 818-610-8800.