Employees in New York who are terminated, fired, laid off, as well as those who resign may be required to sign a severance agreement. In so doing, many employees unwittingly waive their legal rights, including the right to file a lawsuit against their former employer. If you are being asked to sign a severance agreement, you need to talk to a highly skilled employment lawyer.
At Castronovo & McKinney, LLC, we are dedicated to protecting the rights of employees through all phases of the employment relationship, from the interview process to hiring to termination or resignation.
Knowing that severance agreements typically favor the employer, we will work to level the playing field and make sure you do not sign away any of your rights. The sooner you contact our office, the sooner we can start reviewing your severance agreement.
What is a severance agreement?
A severance agreement is a contract between an employer and employee that spells out each party’s rights and responsibilities in the event of job termination. Severance agreements usually include provisions intended to protect the employer’s interests, including:
- A non-disclosure clause prohibiting the former employee from discussing the reason for his or her termination or any confidential business information
- A non-compete provision prohibiting the employee from taking a job with a competitor or starting a competing business
- A non-disparagement agreement barring the employee from making derogatory comments about the employer
Most importantly, severance agreements almost always require the employee to waive his or her right to file a lawsuit against the employer in exchange for receiving severance pay. For this reason, it is crucial to have an experienced employment lawyer review your severance agreement before you sign it.
What should be included in my severance agreement?
Severance agreements vary from employer to employer, however, the following provisions must be included to safeguard your rights:
Your employer may be required to pay severance under the employment agreement, by state or federal law, or pursuant to company policy. If no such obligation exists, your employer may still offer severance pay in exchange for an agreement from you releasing the company from any future claims.
In any event, it takes a skilled employment lawyer to make sure you receive all the severance pay you deserve, including any partially or fully accrued paid time off, unpaid bonuses, or other compensation. If you are required to sign a release and waiver, we will also make sure that any of your rights under the law, the severance agreement, or any vested rights to employee benefits are excluded.
Under federal law, you are entitled to continue health insurance coverage under the company plan for up to 18 months after termination, but you are required to pay the premiums. Our legal team will negotiate with your employer to cover the payments for a set period of time or arrange for a lump sum payment.
While references are a key issue that must be addressed in the event the company is contacted by prospective employers, in most cases an employer may only confirm that an employee worked at the company and was in good standing to avoid potential liability.
You should know that employment agreements and severance agreements typically contain a provision requiring that disputes be resolved through arbitration. Given that arbitration clauses have generally been upheld by the courts, you need an experienced employment attorney on your side, one who is experienced in alternative forms of dispute resolution and who can ensure that the arbitration proceeding is conducted fairly. If a dispute cannot be resolved outside of court, our trial lawyers are fully prepared to litigate.
The terms of a severance agreement are usually confidential, with exceptions for disclosures made to family members, your attorneys, or any disclosures related to any legal or arbitration proceeding.
Although employers have an unfair advantage over employees who are being terminated, we will leverage our negotiating skills to make sure your interests are protected. Above all, we will get you the severance pay you need and deserve and protect your right to earn a living.
Why Choose Castronovo & McKinney, LLC
If you are being fired, you may think it’s easier to just sign the severance agreement and get on with your job search. But this is the time to have an experienced employment lawyer at your side. When you consult us, we will explain all of your rights, review the severance agreement, and handle all communications with your employer and their attorneys. Trust us to help you receive a comprehensive severance package that protects all your legal rights.
Contact Our Experienced New Jersey Severance Agreement Attorneys
Being fired is overwhelming if not embarrassing, but signing away your legal rights is something you should never do. Before you sign that severance agreement, talk to an experienced employment lawyer.