California Fair Severance Pay Attorneys
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If you have been terminated or laid off and you feel that your employer did not provide you with adequate severance pay to reflect your wages and benefits, our California Fair Severance Pay Lawyer may be able to help you.
Your severance pay could affect not only your financial future, but also your family's current financial stability.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Severance Pay
There are many misconceptions regarding severance pay. Obtaining a
severance package from your employer is crucial. Workers whose
been terminated are sometimes at a loss of who to turn to for legal advice
concerning their severance pay.
Workers who are laid off also have multiple questions on how to proceed when initially receiving their severance package.
Common questions from employees who have received a severance package include:
When you are offered a severance package always take your time and do not sign anything unless you have completely reviewed the documents. Refer back to your employee handbook to understand what benefits you are to be compensated for.
A knowledgeable severance package attorney will be able to investigate your case thoroughly. Your attorney can properly analyze the terms of your severance agreement and explain to you the benefits and pitfalls of accepting the offer that your employer provides you with.
There is not a typical severance agreement amount for each employee. Every employer differs in this regard but typically most employers will offer a severance package that includes your salary for one to two weeks for every year that the worker was employed for.
No, a severance package is not required by the law in California. Unless your company had a contract stating that you would receive a package upon being let go. If you did not receive the severance package that was stated in your contract, contact the Fair Severance Pay Lawyers at Bisnar Chase at 800-561-4887 for a free consultation.
What is Severance Pay?
California is an at-will employment 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.
While 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 package in exchange for the employee's agreement not to sue.
The following employees may be eligible or entitled to 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 many of its employees without giving at least a 60-day notice, the company may have to provide a severance pay including salary and benefits.
Common Benefits a Severance Package May Include
Most people are under the misconception that severance packages only includes your salary. While this is true, there are various other pay and benefits that a severance offer can encompass. Keep in mind that every severance package is unique tot every employee.
Benefits that may be included in a severance agreement can be:
- Health coverage: Some employers provide their full-time employees with health benefits until they find a new job. According to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), employees should be able to access their health insurance plan 18 months after being laid off.
- Pension programs: A pension plan, if an employee is old enough retiring early can be an option when being laid off. Pension plans can be offered along with a severance package. At times, companies allow a person to retire at the age of 55. Refer to your employee handbook or employment contract for further details.
- Vacation time/Sick leave: Each state is differs in regards to vacation and sick leave in a severance package. In California, employees who are laid off and have unused sick time must be compensated for that in their severance package.
- Employment aid: Occasionally when a worker is laid off, an employer will offer assistance to a worker with finding a new job. The benefit for the employee would be that they would not have to file for unemployment if they find another job right away. The employer may aid in the job hunt by providing referrals to future employers, resume development or a letter of recommendation.
- Stock options: Employers may offer employees with an Employee Stock Option Plan. An ESOP acts as an incentive for employees to remain loyal and remain at the company for a long period of time. When the employee is let go they must give up their share, but they can potentially sell it back to the company as part of their severance agreement.
Severance Pay Disputes
It is common for employers to low-ball employees with poor severance pay counting on shocked employees to quickly accept what they get and move on. What is more disappointing is that over a period of time, mistakes can slip through the cracks and it is not uncommon for laid-off workers to not receive their severance check.
How do you know that you have a severance pay dispute though?
If your employer has breached the contract that both parties agreed then you have the makings for an employment claim. Usually, an employer will not agree or violate the contract to benefit the company. Make sure that you are also disputing the package within the time period you are given.
Do not pass the window of time in which you can contend your severance pay.
Severance Package Negotiation
When you are handed a severance pay offer, understanding your contract can be a daunting task.
At Bisnar Chase, our experienced employment attorneys utilize their superior negotiation skills to help clients secure a fair severance pay that will hopefully give them a much-needed fresh start. 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.
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.
Protecting Your Rights
Leaving one job and starting work at another is a long, difficult and often stressful process. In the case of layoffs, you may not have a say in when it is your time to leave. It is important that you know your rights before being let go of your job and it is even more vital that you understand your rights upon signing a severance pay agreement.
Employers are not to fire a person based on their age, race, sexual orientation, religion, sex or disabilities. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 forced employers to "promote equal opportunity in employment through administrative and judicial enforcement of the federal civil rights laws and through education and technical assistance."
2. Meals and Rest Breaks:
The state of California requires that employers provide employees with a 30-minute rest break if they have worked five hours consecutively. Within that meal break, employees are allowed to leave the premises. Employees are also to receive a 10-minute rest break. These breaks are to be included in an employee's work hours and are to be compensated accordingly.
There are two types of harassment which are quid pro quo and hostile work environment harassment. Sexual harassment falls in the quid pro quo category. Sexual harassment is defined as any unwelcomed sexual requests, favors or advances. These advances can be made in a verbal or physical form. Harassment is illegal and should not be tolerated. Contact an employment law attorney to review or discuss the legal actions you can take.
Severance Pay & Wrongful Termination
Companies require employees to sign severance pay agreements along with release forms to avoid a lawsuit. These documents ask workers to sign off their legal rights to sue, to work for a competitor or even prevent them from collecting unemployment.
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.
A wrongful termination involves an employee being fired under illegal circumstances. A worker can also file a claim if their employer is breaking their severance agreement.
If you have been wrongfully terminated or have been the victim of harassment, discrimination, retaliation or a hostile work environment, speak to an employment law attorney to review your wrongful termination claim.
Factors That Affect Your Severance Pay
There are many 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 length of employment 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, however, 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 education.
Implications and Deadlines for Severance Pay
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, however, 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.
Speak to a Fair Severance Pay Lawyer First
The Fair Severance Pay Attorneys at the law firm of Bisnar Chase, will help you negotiate the terms with your former employer so you are compensated in a fair manner for the time you put in with your company as well as make sure you are fully taken care of while you search for new employment.
If you have been laid off or had your employment terminated, you do not have to go through this alone.
This can be an important and challenging time in your life. Hiring an attorney to take on your claim, can help relieve you of these challenges.