One of the most important services I offer my Employment Law Clients is that I can review a proposed Severance Package or Termination Agreement. Because Federal and California Law have special protections for Workers over the age of forty, this review can be critically important. Often an Employer who fears a major discrimination claim will try and resolve the case with a low “Severance Agreement” that does not fully or fairly compensate the employee. What is far worse, some employers, especially large national companies that do business in many states, may try and include in a Severance Package post employment restrictions that are illegal under California Law. Before you sign a severance agreement, make sure to have it reviewed. In reviewing Severance Agreements or Termination Packages, I usually charge either a Flat Fee, or at my hourly rate. In the course of my review I may be able to help you negotiate for better terms, or help you decide if you would be better off rejecting the Severance Package and bringing your claims for discrimination or wrongful termination before the EEOC, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, or before the courts. Protect yourself and your future by having your severance package reviewed by the Law Office of Susan Cohen.
In reviewing Severance Packages she carefully evaluates the Proposed Severance Package to see if it complies with Federal Statutes include the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 and that have specific requirements for what must be in a Severance Package offered to workers over the age of forty, and for provisions that may try and limit the future Employment Opportunities of the client leaving the workplace. Some large National Companies will try and use standard forms throughout the country that may contain Covenants Not to Complete that are generally illegal in California. Some companies, especially large employers or employers in High Technology Companies may attempt to limit future employment opportunities with provisions that purport to relate to Intellectual Property.
When your employer asks you to accept a Severance Package, they are asking you to give up your rights to sue them, whether for discrimination, breach of contract, wrongful termination or wages and hours issues, or for any other reason. Many large corporations also will place language in their proposed Severance Packages that purport to limit what companies you can work for in the future, or whether you can use your experience and what you learned while working for them in future employment.
California prohibits post-employment restrictions that are “Covenants Not to Compete”. You need to be aware that your Employer may try and get you to agree to a Severance Package that includes provisions that are illegal and unenforceable under California Law. Many large national companies try and use one Severance Package form for employees in any state where they do business. The Corporate Counsel on the East Coast may not know that their standard language is illegal under California Law.
You need to have an experienced employment law attorney review any proposed Severance Package before you sign it. You want to consider, are you better off bringing a wrongful termination or discrimination case against a bad employer, or accepting a Severance package? How much is your employer offering you? What important rights is your employer asking you to give up? Will you still be able to seek work in your field near where you live, if you agree to the Severance Package your employer proposes?
Susan Cohen can help you evaluate and understand a Severance Package your employer is asking you to accept.
Call Susan G. Cohen at 916-882-0242, or contact me online to schedule an initial consultation. My office is conveniently located in Sacramento at 500 Capitol Mall, Suite 2350, Sacramento, California 95814.