Don’t sign your rights away on a severance

| Oct 1, 2018 | Uncategorized |

Whether your termination came out of the blue or you sensed it brewing for some time, losing your job is not easy. However, you may be relieved to leave this job if it has been an unpleasant experience. Perhaps it has been beyond unpleasant if you dealt with discrimination or other hostility from your employer or coworkers.

If your California employer offered you a severance package, you may feel that you rightly deserve such a consideration. However, do not be too quick to sign, especially if the circumstances of your termination are suspicious.

Common severance terms

A severance package is not a universal offering to every employee who loses his or her job. Unless your employment contract outlined your right to a severance, your employer does not have to extend an offer. However, if there is one on the table, you want to make sure it is appropriate. Some negotiable terms of a severance can include:

  • A sum of money equal to what you would earn in two to three weeks on the job
  • The extension of your health benefits for a limited time
  • A letter of recommendation
  • Permission to keep company property, such as a phone or laptop
  • Payment for unused sick leave, vacation days or other benefits
  • Assistance with job placement

You may also wish to negotiate the manner in which you receive any financial considerations. For example, accepting a lump sum severance may complicate your finances, and dispersal of your company investments may have tax ramifications.

Read before you sign

Of course, these benefits do not come without a price, and that may be the sticking point. A severance agreement often requires you to sign documents that benefit the company. For example, your employer may require you to sign a non-compete contract which may limit your employment opportunities in your chosen field. You may be able to negotiate these terms to your advantage.

Be especially aware of signing away your right to take legal action for any illegal acts, such as discrimination or wrongful termination. If you believe your employer is terminating you for discriminatory reasons, you would be wise to hold off signing the papers until your attorney can review the fine print. Typically, you will have several weeks to review the severance documents, and this is an ideal time to consult with an attorney.


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