California Severance Pay Attorney
If you have just been laid off or let go from your job, discussing a fair severance pay with your employer can be intimidating. It is critical to remember not to sign a severance agreement if the terms are unclear or if you do not agree with what the document states. You may be giving up your rights without even knowing it. Employers often count on employees being unable to properly and effectively negotiate a severance pay at the time of termination.
This can be an important and challenging time in your life. Your severance pay could affect not only your financial future, but also your family's current financial stability. Your employers may not even take you seriously until you have an employment law firm on your side. Having an experienced attorney will let your employer know that you are serious about being treated in a fair and equitable manner.
Protecting Your Rights
It is common for employers to low-ball employees with a poor severance pay counting on shocked employees to quickly accept what they get and move on. In addition, companies also require employees to sign agreements and release from claims to receive severance pay. These documents basically ask workers to sign off their legal rights to sue, to work for a competitor or even prevent them from collecting unemployment.
At Bisnar Chase, our skilled employment attorneys use their superior negotiation skills to help clients secure a fair severance pay that will hopefully give them a much-needed fresh start. If you have been wrongfully terminated or have been the victim of harassment, discrimination, retaliation or a hostile work environment, our legal team will fight for your rights and help ensure that you are fairly compensated. If you would like to talk about negotiating a fair severance pay, please contact us at (800) 561-4887.
What Can An Employment Attorney Do For You?
A knowledgeable severance pay lawyer will be able to investigate your case and establish whether you have a legal claim against your employer for discrimination, retaliation or wrongful termination. An attorney will also be able to assess the severance pay you have received including the financial terms of your pay to determine if it is in fact fair and accurate.
Your lawyer will be able to directly negotiate with your employer or help you with background information and pointers so you can secure the best severance pay. He or she can properly analyze the terms of your severance agreement and explain to you the benefits and pitfalls of accepting the offer that is before you. What is important to understand is that a severance agreement is a legal document. Do not sign it until you understand the terms and their implications.
Is Your Employer Required to Offer You Severance?
California is an at-will state. What this means is that an employer can terminate employment for no reason at all, unless that reason does not have its basis in discrimination or retaliation. Severance pay, which is also known as termination or separation pay, refers to money and/or benefits provided by the employer to an employee who has been laid off, fired or has resigned.
When there is no specific contractual obligation or an employment policy, California employers are not required by law to provide severance pay. However, many employers do offer a severance pay pay in exchange for the employee's agreement not to sue.
The following employees may be eligible to receive severance pay:
- Workers with employment contracts that clearly state employers must pay severance. Some contracts may even state how much severance the employee is entitled to, should the contract be terminated.
- Workers whose employment has been terminated as part of mass layoffs. Under the WARN Act, if the company becomes defunct or if the company lays off a large number of employees without giving at least a 60-day notice, the company may have to provide a severance pay including salary and benefits.
- Employees who work for companies that have severance policies in place.
Factors That Affect Your Severance Pay
There are a number of factors that could affect the amount of money or level of benefits that you could get as part of your severance pay. Here are just some of the most common factors:
- The amount of time you have served with the company.
- Your seniority at the company.
- The circumstances surrounding your employment termination.
- The size and profitability of the company.
- The time needed for you to find employment without suffering economic hardship.
The amount of severance pay your employer offers is non-negotiable. But an employee may be able to negotiate for other non-monetary benefits such as continued medical and dental benefits for a specified time, a favorable letter of reference, retention of certain company property such as a cell phone or laptop or continued funding for pursuing an education college course.
Implications and Deadlines
It is also important that employees understand how their severance pay will affect their ability to receive unemployment benefits. For example, severance paid as a lump sum will not affect the employee's right to unemployment benefits. But, if it is paid out bi-weekly as if the employee is still receiving a paycheck, it may delay the employee's ability to collect unemployment benefits. It is crucial to be mindful of this information when you negotiate your severance pay with your employer. Usually, as part of the severance agreement, employers will ask the employee to agree not to file any claims or lawsuits.
Deadlines to sign and accept your severance agreement could range from no time to 21 days or longer. Your California employment lawyer may be able to extend severance pay time limits or deadlines.