Separation and Severance Agreements
Our attorneys fight to protect your rights
If your employer has announced layoffs, the elimination of your position or the termination of your employment for any other reason, you often will be offered a separation or severance agreement. These agreements provide legal protection for the employer and provide financial benefits for employees who are terminated.
The experienced employment law attorneys at Gibson Law, LLC understand how these agreements can affect the lives of workers losing their jobs. We used to represent employers and understand how they approach these agreements. Now, we fight to maximize compensation and benefits for employees who have lost their jobs.
Separation and severance agreements are standard in business. There are many factors that need to be considered when determining the terms and conditions, however. State and federal employment laws can be complicated. In addition, the language of the agreement needs to be clear so that that all parties understand their rights and obligations.
What is the purpose of a separation agreement with an employer?
One of the most critical times for employees is at the end of their employment. At that time, employees often enter into a separation agreement with their employer. These contracts can affect your future, so it’s important to make sure your rights are protected.
Separation agreements legally bind an employee to the agreement’s terms and conditions after their employment. Those terms may, for example:
- Waive any and all claims the employee has against the employer.
- Limit the employee’s future work opportunities.
- Prevent the employee from seeking certain benefits.
You should speak with an experienced employment attorney prior to signing a separation agreement given the rights you may be waiving. In addition to having the agreement’s terms and conditions explained, an attorney may be able to negotiate more favorable terms on your behalf. Since your employer is likely receiving the benefit of legal advice, so should you.
What does a severance agreement cover?
A severance agreement, or severance package, addresses financial compensation the employee will receive upon termination of employment. This compensation can help you get by while you look for other employment. A severance agreement may include:
- Severance pay (the amount is based on several factors including years of service, the circumstances of the termination and the employer’s financial situation).
- Continuation of certain benefits (such as health benefits) for a certain amount of time.
- Compensation for unused vacation days and sick time.
- Bonus payments.
- Stock options.
- Access to outplacement services to help the employee find a new job.
- A non-disparagement clause.
It’s important to carefully review a severance agreement to determine if it is fair and if anything has been left out. Employees are usually given time to consider these agreements before signing.
How can a lawyer help?
Separation and severance agreements are legally binding documents that can impact your future. While they are intended to benefit both parties, an agreement may benefit the employer more than you. That’s why it’s important to talk to an experienced lawyer to ensure your rights are being protected. A lawyer can:
- Review the terms and conditions of your agreement.
- Determine if the agreement follows state and federal law.
- Explain how certain sections can affect you (such as non-disparagement clauses, non-compete clauses, non-disclosure provisions and confidentially agreements).
- Negotiate more favorable terms, if possible.
A lawyer will also take into account the circumstances of your separation from the company and consider all your options. This can give you the information you need to decide what to do next.
There is one thing that you can be sure about. Your employer and their attorneys spent a considerable amount of time on your separation and severance agreement. Since you’re the one that has to live with the terms and conditions, you deserve to take time to determine how the agreement will affect you.
Our firm knows what employers take into consideration when drafting these agreements. That’s because our attorneys used to work at a large law firm, representing employers in all types of cases involving employment issues. We know how employers determine terms and conditions and compensation. We know when they can do better.
If you have been offered a separation or severance agreement in Ohio, it’s important to get legal advice as soon as possible. You only have a certain amount of time to review agreements and decide whether to sign. Contact us for a consultation with a member of our legal team. We have offices in Cincinnati and Dayton.