Can Your Employer Deny You Severance Pay?

By: JML Law | January 25, 2018.
Can Your Employer Deny You Severance Pay?

You may assume that, when you leave your current job, it’ll be because you’ve found a great new one and have decided to move on. However, this isn’t always the case, and many people are forced out of jobs through no choice of their own, for reasons including being fired, the company downsizing, or being laid off. When you’ve been told you must leave your job, a severance package can help to make the process a little less painful, but not all terminated employees will qualify. A Los Angeles severance agreement lawyer can help you work out what you’re entitled to but, in the meantime, this brief overview may be useful.

What Is a Severance Agreement

Severance pay is a sum of money paid to you by your employer when your contract is terminated. Rather than being simply a payment, there will normally be some conditions attached, such as you agree not to file an unfair dismissal lawsuit or spread negative comments about your former employer. While your employer may not be legally obliged to make these payments, the severance agreement can be a useful way to avoid legal liability.

The specific severance agreement will  depend on your individual circumstances but, generally, if you’ve signed the agreement and accepted severance pay, you’ll waive your rights to:

  1. Sue your former employer for wrongful termination
  2. Sue for discrimination due to gender, race, religion, age, sexual orientation or other grounds
  3. Discuss your severance agreement with others
  4. Reveal any insider information, or trade secrets of your former employer
  5. Express negative opinions about your former employer
  6. Sue for other claims, which may be currently known or unknown

Not all severance agreements will cover all these points, and you should always seek the advice of a Los Angeles severance agreement lawyer if you’re considering signing one.

What’s Not Covered by a Severance Agreement

Whether your contract entitles you to severance pay or your employer has voluntarily offered a severance agreement, there are some legal rights that cannot be waived. Even if your employer requests it, the following rights cannot be signed away:

  1. Right to claim wages, holiday pay, minimum wage or other violations of employment law
  2. Right to report any illegal activity that may have occurred
  3. Right not to perjure yourself
  4. Right to work for a competitor of your former employer
  5. Any condition that is so vague or so all-encompassing that it would hinder your chances of securing future employment

This list is not exhaustive, and the severance agreement you’re offered may well be asking you to sign something that cannot legally be agreed to. If you’re unsure about the legality of the terms of a severance agreement, feel you are being forced into signing, or want to make sure you’re getting the best possible terms and payout, a Los Angeles severance agreement lawyer could help.

Ensure you, and your family, are getting the most from your former employer by contacting our experienced severance agreement lawyers in Los Angeles on 818-610-8800

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