Think Before You Sign: Why Consult With a Lawyer Before Accepting a Severance Agreement?

When you hear the rumblings of rumored lay-offs and terminations going around the office, all the uncertainty surrounding the fate of your future employment can feel overwhelming. Alternatively, you may be nearing the end of your years of dedication to a company and expect a significant severance package proposal upon retirement. Regardless of your situation, severance agreements can significantly impact your income, so it’s crucial that you fully understand what is outlined in the package before accepting anything.

If you’ve been offered a severance or separation package from your place of employment, it can seem tempting to simply sign on the dotted line right away to receive compensation after termination or upon a much-deserved retirement. But be patient and wait to sign off on any severance agreements before securing practical legal advice from a trusted Minnesota severance lawyer.

Work with an experienced severance agreement attorney to understand the language of the offer and explore your options to receive the best compensation for your circumstances.

Think Before You Sign: 6 Ways an Attorney Can Help When Accepting a Severance Agreement

When faced with a stressful situation such as a termination or lay-off, many employees might think that signing off on a severance offer right away is their best option to receive fair compensation from their employer. Unfortunately, companies are greedy and often try to be tricky, sneaking secret clauses and insufficient benefits into severance packages.

If you’re gearing up for retirement after many years of service with a business or organization, it’s still plenty common for employers to attempt to cut corners when it comes to severance packages.

Consult with a Minnesota severance lawyer or another attorney in your area to decipher the language of your severance package and determine whether it’s reasonable and ready to sign or requires a bit of negotiation. Some of the ways an experienced lawyer will assist you when accepting a severance agreement include:

1. Evaluating the Agreement

When your employer first offers a severance agreement or one-time payment upon leaving your position, the particulars of your severance package can be confusing to understand on your own. Seeking out an attorney dedicated to employer agreements ensures that you gain access to the greatest severance package available. Find a firm with extensive experience in severance agreement negotiation to help navigate the language and requirements outlined in the agreement so you can receive your payment ASAP.

2. Negotiating Payment

If you’re entitled to receive severance, whether through an agreement or via a company retirement policy, your lawyer will provide assistance in negotiating a fair payment. Dedicated severance lawyers like the ones at MSB typically have a good sense of the average range of severance amounts for your occupation or industry.

Whether you’re entitled to a one-time payment after termination or are eligible to receive continuing benefits, an attorney with competent negotiation skills can make sure you get the most money. A reliable legal advocate will also ensure you receive your severance payment or payments on the proper timeline, allowing you to breathe a little easier as you begin your retirement or a new job search.

3. Determining Benefits

Another thing your severance attorney will do is help determine the benefits you’re entitled to after separating from an organization. The things your lawyer will be looking for in the severance package can include the continuation of healthcare benefits, pensions, social security, disability benefits, and more.

Work with your lawyer to locate and organize important employee information from the relevant period of employment. A few things your attorney will assess in order to negotiate the best benefits upon severance include:

  • Length of employment
  • Positions held
  • Salary history
  • Annual performance review results (both positive and negative)
  • Misconduct or other marks on your record
  • Workers’ compensation claims
  • Other critical information

Giving your lawyer an honest rundown of your background and history on the job and within the organization can make all the difference in determining the benefits you will receive after accepting a severance agreement.

4. Understanding a Release of Claims

When offering out severance agreements, employers usually want a full legal release from association with you as an employee. Your attorney can walk you through exactly what this means when it comes to any existing workers’ compensation, disability claims, or work-related injury benefits you may have open or pending.

Since you should already have all necessary employment information on hand, your attorney can see if you have any existing claims and advise you on whether they should be released in return for the offered severance package. Don’t sign anything until you consult with a severance lawyer, so can ensure you’re still in good standing and released from the correct claims when you separate from a company.

5. Assessing Restricted Information Clauses

Severance agreements typically forbid past employees from disparaging or speaking poorly about their past employer or disclosing confidential information after leaving a position. Such stipulations are often seen in the form of the following:

  • Non-compete agreements bar terminated employees from competing with the company for a specified amount of time.
  • Non-disclosure agreements limit the information you’re able to disclose about a company or your job description and responsibilities during employment.
  • Non-solicit agreements stop past employees from stealing or hiring workers away from an organization.
  • Non-disparagement clauses keep retired and terminated employees from using negative or disparaging language against an old employer.

Typically, things like non-compete and non-disclosure agreements are already in place when you first sign the contract for your job or position. High-profile occupations like those in government, medical, and research sectors can have stringent requirements upon receiving severance.

Your attorney can ensure that all agreements already in place stay the same. Additionally, a lawyer will evaluate any new terms and conditions and attempt to limit the length or scope of the restrictions your severance package imposes. Fight for fairness when you have to sign off on non-compete agreements and other clauses to ensure you can still find work once you’re terminated, let go, or otherwise separated from your current employer.

6. Securing Employer References

One thing that a reliable severance agreement attorney can retain for you is adequate references from your employer upon termination, lay-off, or any other reason for leaving the company. Just like your employer can ask you to sign non-compete and non-disclosure agreements or bar you from using disparaging language against them, you also have the right to useful references from your past employer when seeking a position at a new organization.

Your severance lawyer can draw up specific language that you and your employer agree upon for use in case of inquiries from future employers. Legal advocates such as severance attorneys ensure fair future treatment, so you can feel confident next time you have a job interview coming up.

The Best Option Before You Sign

Unexpected terminations and lay-offs from a place of employment can leave workers wondering what to do next. With the potential negative impacts on your income as well as your mental health, it’s essential to seek help from an experienced severance agreement attorney to negotiate the best possible payout after termination or a lay-off. Even if you’re ready for retirement, it’s still crucial to have a reliable legal advocate on your side to secure the benefits and severance package you deserve after years of hard work in your position.

The trusted team of experts at MSB Employment Justice can help you navigate the nuances of your severance offer before accepting the best terms. An experienced severance attorney will talk you through the technicalities and legal jargon outlined in the offer, so you understand the conditions and requirements in place to receive your payment. Then, they’ll help hold your employer accountable when it comes to things like references for future jobs, adequate benefits, and actually receiving your severance payment on time.

Seeking out consultation from a severance lawyer is crucial to securing the best possible severance payment or package. You don’t want to be hit with obscure technicalities and hidden clauses that can make it challenging to find future employment after termination. Contact MSB, where an accomplished severance attorney will work on your behalf to negotiate the best benefits and compensation in your upcoming severance package.

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Bree Johnson

After more than a decade in the legal industry and BigLaw firms, attorney and activist Bree Johnson saw an opportunity to do more for employees who are mistreated in the workplace with a career move to representing employees and plaintiffs. See Full Bio

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