Severance

People get laid off.  It’s an unfortunate fact of life.  As a reward for faithful years of service, ethical employers will usually offer a severance package to ease the transition.  Employers are not legally obligated to offer severance payments, but by doing so, they can gain a legal advantage.  In return for severance payments to laid-off employees, an employer will usually ask them to sign away any legal rights they may have had to sue the employer.  The documents they use are called a “severance agreement” or “severance package.”

Severance Agreement Review

Sometimes severance agreements are drafted way too broadly, asking terminated employees to give up legal rights the employer has no business asking the employee to give up.  Since severance agreements are almost always drafted by the employer’s lawyer and are in hard-to-understand “legalese” it is always a good idea for employees to have their own lawyers review severance agreements BEFORE signing.  We can help.

Discover Appropriate Severance Terms

In the past there was a “rule of thumb” that employers would pay two weeks’ severance pay for every year of service.  Over the past several years in Silicon Valley, though, typical severance payments seem to have shrunk to one week per year.  An employee may or may not be in a position to negotiate greater payments, depending on what actual (as opposed to potential) legal rights the employee is being asked to give up.  Is there a possible unlawful discrimination or whistleblower case, supported by actual evidence?  If you are an employee being offered a severance package, or an employer seeking to terminate an employee and protect your rights, contact us to discuss appropriate severance package terms.