Richmond, VA Severance Agreement Lawyer
Helping Employees Negotiate Severance Pay and Agreements in Virginia
Many employers offer severance packages to employees they want to fire or who are laid off. These packages, and the pay and benefits they provide, give employees about to lose their job financial and health insurance support for a specific period. Depending on the terms of the severance agreement, however, an employee may be waiving valuable legal rights by accepting the offer. Having an employment lawyer review your severance agreement can help you protect your rights and obtain thousands of dollars in additional compensation and benefits. Call (804) 251-1620 to have your severance agreement reviewed and explained.
We Contest, Review, and Negotiate Severance Agreements in Virginia
Many employees sign the offered severance agreement right away, considering themselves lucky to receive the severance pay. But this is a mistake in many cases because (1) this agreement does not offer the best terms possible for the employee and (2) it may prevent the employee from taking legal action that they may otherwise pursue.
As an employee who has been offered a severance agreement, you should take one of the following actions:
- Contest the Severance Agreement: If your termination is due to a disability, harassment, or discrimination, or if the terms of your signed employment contract were breached, you should contest the severance agreement and consider taking other legal action.
- Review the Severance Agreement: Even if you see no problems with the terms of the severance package, you should contact an experienced severance attorney who might find ways to improve the agreement based on your particular situation.
- Negotiate the Severance Agreement: The reason so many employees sign the severance agreement as soon as it is offered is that they feel they have no power to negotiate its terms. That isn’t true in many cases. An experienced severance pay lawyer can help you use leverage to negotiate your agreement.
If you are an employee who was fired and offered a severance package in Richmond, Norfolk, or elsewhere in Virginia, legal action may be your best option. And even if you have already signed the agreement, you may have time to revoke your consent if you are over 40 years old because of the Older Workers Protection Act.
Reasons to Hire a Severance Attorney to Review Your Employment Separation Agreement
As an employee offered a severance package in Virginia, there are several clauses you should be aware of. As your attorney, we may be able to rewrite or remove unfavorable language, or help you obtain additional compensation and benefits for retaining the language in the agreement. Below are several reasons that you should hire an attorney to review your separation agreement.
1. You do not need to sign a severance agreement if you are already entitled to receive severance pay. Though not every fired employee is entitled to severance pay by law, some of you may be owed money based on an employment contract, written policy in the company’s employee handbook, or through the company’s pattern of giving severance to employees in circumstances and positions similar to yours. If you are owed severance pay anyway, you should not sign a separation agreement unless it provides more than the severance pay to which you were already entitled.
2. Severance payment amount. For many employees, the amount of severance pay is the most significant aspect of the severance package. An experienced attorney can provide counsel on whether the amount of severance offered by the employer is within the usual range for your profession, industry, and length of service to the employer.
3. Continuation of employment benefits. Medical insurance is expensive. Your severance agreement should explain what benefits you will receive upon separation, including the employer’s payment of health insurance premiums for as long as possible.
4. Money owed. If your employer owes you money for unused vacation time or unreimbursed expenses such as mileage, it must may it regardless of whether you sign the severance agreement. The separation agreement should state the date by which the employer will pay you the money it owes for these items.
5. Favorable references. You can ask the employer for a favorable letter of reference that you can provide to potential new employers.
6. Non-disparagement. Many employers will include a provision in the severance agreement that bars you from disparaging your former employer – either orally or in writing. Your severance attorney should ask for the employer and its management to agree not to disparage you.
7. Characterization of separation. You may find it important to have your separation characterized as a voluntary resignation or lay off, instead of termination. Your attorney can negotiate this.
8. Unemployment compensation. It is important to understand the impact the severance agreement may have on your right to unemployment insurance benefits. An experienced severance lawyer can negotiate the employer’s agreement not to contest your right to unemployment.
9. Moving expenses. You may want the employer to pay for moving expenses, up to a specific amount, if you have to move more than 50 miles away for a new job.
10. Outplacement and recruiting services. You may want the employer to pay for outplacement services meant to find you a new job.
11. Release of claims. Your employer will likely ask you to agree to waive all potential legal claims in exchange for accepting the severance pay. The general releases that employers ask employees to sign often ask the employee to give up his or her legal right to every type of claim. A severance attorney can help you make the release more balanced. For example, you should ask the employer to give up any claims it may have against you, including the waiver of any covenant not to compete that you may have signed when you accepted employment.
12. Restrictive covenants. Many employees are subject to non-compete and non-solicitation agreements found in employment contracts they have signed. These agreements may prevent you from competing with the employer in certain areas for specific time periods, from taking certain clients with you when you leave, or from hiring other employees away from the employee. Your attorney should make sure that the severance agreement does not expand your obligations and try to reduce your obligations.
13. Confidentiality clause. Many employers want to keep severance agreement terms confidential so that the information cannot be used against them with the next employee. Your severance agreement lawyer can create carve-outs that allow you to share information with certain individuals, including family members, other attorneys, tax advisors, and accountants.
14. Property. Your attorney can negotiate the terms of your severance agreement to allow you to keep any computers, cell phones, tools, documents, or commissions that may otherwise be repayable to your company.
15. Cooperation provisions. Some separation agreements require the employee to cooperate in any investigation or legal matter involving the employer. Your attorney can try to scale back this provision so that you have reasonable notice and can limit your cooperation to what is reasonable. You should also receive payment for time spent cooperating with these investigations or participating in legal proceedings.
Contact a Severance Agreement Attorney in Richmond, Virginia
Being let go from your can be a challenging and traumatic experience. You likely have concerns over your financial situation and future job opportunities. When you contact us we’ll help you get the best severance package possible, avoid future liability, and protect your right to future employment with other companies.
Call Corey Pollard now to see whether you need to contest or renegotiate your severance agreement: (804) 251-1620.