Philadelphia Severance Agreement Lawyers
Severance Agreements and Their Broad Significance
A severance agreement, also called a separation agreement or termination agreement, specifies the terms of your employment termination. The Agreement will set forth the amount of severance pay and the manner in which it will be paid. In addition to your obligations, the Agreement will outline provisions relating to vacation pay, COBRA and other benefits you may be entitled to receive. It is customary for the Agreement to include confidentiality and non-disparagement provisions, as well as other restrictions upon your conduct following the termination, such as restrictive covenants and non-compete clauses. It will most likely also include a clause that waives your right to sue your employer, generally referred to as a release of claims. This means that you agree to forgo legal claims and release your employer from liability by signing it. In exchange, your employer will likely offer “consideration” in the form of additional severance pay.
As experienced Philadelphia employment attorneys, Sidney L. Gold and Associates are prepared to help you dissect and understand the ramifications of such provisions, with your best interests in mind. We have been reviewing and advising on severance agreements for 25 years and ensure that our clients get the best possible agreement. With our extensive employment law experience, we are able to identify the modifications necessary to protect the interests of our clients. We then negotiate into the agreements as many modifications as possible to further our clients’ interests.
Enforceability of Severance Agreements
In the absence of another agreement or contract that entitles you to receive severance pay, your employer likely has the right to require you to sign a severance agreement in order to receive monies. It’s a legal “bribe” of sorts, which will help your employer avoid enforceability problems. However, your employer may not coerce you into signing a severance agreement, such as by threatening to withhold wages and other pay that you’ve already earned.
Severance agreements are generally enforceable, if they:
- Are reasonable in scope when waiving employee rights to sue;
- Don’t violate laws, such as discrimination laws;
- Are supported by consideration other than that already earned; and
- Were knowingly and voluntarily signed, with a reasonable amount of time to first consider the consequences and consult a lawyer.
Many employees quickly sign severance agreements just to receive the monies without truly understanding that they’ve signed legally-binding contracts that waived some of their most significant employee rights. To avoid enforceability problems, your employer must give you a reasonable amount of time to sign, so that you may consult with a lawyer. In fact, your employer must give you at least 21 days to consult an attorney, if signing waives your rights under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
Before signing a Severance Agreement, call Sidney L. Gold and Associates. Schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible, as there may be time limits on signing and accepting an agreement. Our firm will review it for any opportunities to strengthen the agreement in your favor. The first severance agreement your employer presents may not be their best offer.
Severance Agreements and Discriminatory Practices
As experienced employment discrimination lawyers, our firm is uniquely qualified to review severance agreements for compliance with the federal and state anti-discrimination laws. When we meet with you, we will gather all the information on your terms of employment and the conditions of your termination. We will then analyze the offer and circumstances to see whether you have been the victim of discriminatory practices. For example, sometimes a Reduction in Force (RIF) is used as an excuse to hide a discrimination case. Our lawyers examine the circumstances around the force reduction to ensure you are not being lumped in with others for the wrong reasons. It is legal to be released because of business reasons in a RIF, but not for discriminatory practices.
Make sure you are leaving for the right reasons and on your best possible terms.
The Philadelphia employment lawyer, Sidney L. Gold, reviews severance agreements for employees in Pennsylvania, New Jersey & Delaware. When you are presented with a severance agreement, be sure to call our firm as soon as possible. We will negotiate the best terms for you and protect your rights under the law.