Should I Sign this Severance Agreement . . . or Not?

Sometimes employers will offer a month or two’s worth of pay in exchange for a waiver of all claims that you might have against the employer in perpetuity. You should consider speaking with an attorney before signing any form of severance agreement.

The problem in many severance situations is that employees just don’t know what a reasonable severance package is under their unique circumstances. Negotiating a severance package is, after all, not something that the average person has done before, but it is probably not the first time the employer is dealing with a severance agreement. While there is information online available that claims what a “typical” severance package is or what a “normal” severance amount would be based upon your wages and how long you have worked for the employer, the truth is that there are no hard and fast rules on determining what a reasonable severance package is.

The circumstances surrounding the separation from your job are unique to you. Perhaps your termination violated a state or federal employment law. For example, perhaps you were terminated immediately after telling your boss that you just found out that you are pregnant. If pregnancy was even just one motivating factor in the boss’ decision to terminate you, then this would probably constitute illegal employment action. Signing a severance agreement and accepting a severance package would almost certainly forevermore waive your right to bring such bring a subsequent legal action against your previous employer. Under this set of circumstances, your employer’s pregnancy discrimination would be an important consideration in the severance negotiation process.

The bottom line is that it is a good idea to have an attorney review your severance agreement if you are contemplating whether or not to sign it. You could waive rights that you did not even realize that you had if you sign a severance agreement without first seeking the help of counsel.  Employers would love for you to hastily sign off on the document before you walk out the door, but this may not be the best decision for you.

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