Getting the severance pay you deserve.
Finding yourself faced with unemployment because of termination, position elimination, or a layoff can be extremely stressful and leave you in financial distress. Severance pay or a severance package is compensation from your employer and can help to bridge the gap between employment opportunities. If you believe you are entitled to a severance package or the package you are receiving is unfair or not as agreed upon, having an experienced attorney in your corner is key to receiving the compensation you deserve. Call Greg Hall, Attorney at Law, for information on negotiating the severance package you are entitled to.
What is severance pay or a severance package?
Severance pay or a severance package is compensation from an employer at the end of employment. Compensation could be in the form of payments or benefits and is often based on years of service and the employee’s current benefits package and pay. Common severance packages include lump-sum payments, insurance benefits, payment for unused vacation or sick days, bonus payments, stock options, and in some situations assistance in finding a new job. In Colorado, there is no law requiring an employer to offer a severance package. For this reason, it is important to record and have all compensation promises in writing.
What is a severance agreement?
In exchange for receiving severance pay or package, the employer typically requires the exiting employee to sign a “severance agreement.” This severance agreement will list the compensation and benefits the former employee is receiving and contain terms that both parties must agree to in order for the severance agreement to be fulfilled. The severance agreement will include a release of all claims against the employer. While seemingly straightforward, severance agreements should be reviewed and negotiated with care. Signing a severance agreement without careful consideration could result in you giving up valuable legal claims against the employer. Hiring a precise and detail oriented attorney will help you navigate the legalities of the severance agreement and ensure your rights are kept intact.
Employee Release of Claims
A release of claims is an agreement that the terminated employee drop all legal claims they may have against the company. This includes claims of unpaid wages, retaliation, harassment, and discrimination. If you have been a victim, signing a release of claims agreement can prevent you from seeking further redress for any of these claims. Claims against the employer could include:
- Job Reinstatement
- Punitive Damages
- Back Pay
- Unpaid Wages
Employer Release of Rights
An employer release of rights is not included in all severance agreements. This provision could protect an employee from claims an employer may make against the employee regarding wrongful conduct.
Non-Disclosure of Trade Information
A non-disclosure of trade information states that a former employee can not disclose or share trade secrets (technique, formula, process, device, pattern or method) with another company. This agreement could cover topics anywhere from trade information to other confidential information learned via employee training, employment, and special conferences. If not negotiated properly, this term has the potential to limit one’s future employment opportunities and subject the employee to future litigation.
Non-compete Clause / Limitations on Future Employment
A severance agreement may also contain a clause limiting the employee from seeking future employment with a direct competitor for a certain length of time. Depending upon the workforce you are involved in, this stipulation could further prolong unemployment. Although in Colorado, non-compete agreements are void and unenforceable against many employees, there are several exceptions that would make non-compete clauses enforceable.
In the state of Colorado, an employee can not waive his or her right to unemployment compensation.
What should I do if I have been offered severance?
Deciding whether to accept, reject or negotiate a severance package can have significant financial implications. It is of utmost importance to consider the terms and conditions of the agreement. Agreements should include a considerable period in which you are able to analyze, review and/or negotiate the offer. This time also allows you to hire an attorney who can assist you in your considerations and help you comb through all the necessary documentation and facts in order for you to receive the best offer. In order to enter negotiations soundly you will need to gather all related information including but not limited to: severance offer letters, employee handbook, documentation of any severance promises, bonus plans, stock options, sick days, paid time off/vacation days, insurance benefits, unreimbursed business expenses, and lastly how your severance package compares up to severance packages offered by similar employers.
Once you have reviewed the offered package in detail and gathered all pertinent information, your attorney and you can determine how to move forward.
What should I do if my employer is denying my right to severance?
In the state of Colorado, severance agreements can be a source of confusion as there is no law that requires an employer to offer severance pay or package. If you feel you are being unjustly denied severance, an attorney can review your case and advise you. An employee’s right to severance can be based on numerous things such as, length of employment, compensation offered to similar employees at the same company or like companies, and circumstances in which the employment was terminated. If you are entitled to severance pay or package, contact Greg Hall today to discuss how you can get the compensation you deserve.
Greg Hall is a renowned employment law attorney in the city of Denver and has been practicing for over 20 years. As a sole practitioner, you can rest assured that your case is in good hands and will be handled directly by him. Greg will guide you through the complexities of your case and help you attain the compensation you deserve. He is committed to understanding individual clients’ needs and gives each one the value they deserve for the legal fees paid. He offers efficiency and transparency to his clients through every step of the process. Contact Gregory Hall today to learn about your rights.