Losing your job can be a pretty stressful situation for most, however, thankfully many employers offer severance packages that help laid-off employees stay afloat for the next few months until they land a new job. However, if your employer does indeed offer you a severance agreement, you should refrain from signing it until you have the approval of your attorney, as such agreements can be laden with clauses that may not be in your best interests. Given below are four reasons why you should get your severance package reviewed by a lawyer:
1. To review monetary compensation
Your employer is likely to offer you a low ball on the monetary compensation part of your severance package expecting you to negotiate upwards later on. Hence, if you feel that the money your employer is offering you is too low, it most probably is, and an attorney could help you get a fair deal. However, if your initial employment contract already features a severance pay, the severance agreement your employer wants you to sign may feature waivers and clauses, and you should carefully be reviewing it accordingly.
2. To help you understand any waivers and claims
Your severance agreement is likely to feature waivers that will require you to let go of any claims related to your employer and employment. It would essentially mean that you agree not to sue your employer for anything that has happened before the signing date of your severance agreement. You need to get these claims reviewed by an attorney and only sign after his/her approval and only if you are comfortable with these terms yourself. Your attorney is also likely to initiate the requirement of an employee release that would feature a clause that your employer cannot have any claims against you in the future, similar to an employer release.
3. To review any restrictive covenants
Severance agreements often contain restrictive covenants and non-compete restrictions that may stop you from working certain jobs in certain industries. This is likely to have a big impact on your career in the future and hence needs to be reviewed carefully by an attorney. The agreement may also feature non-solicit restrictions that may prevent you from hiring any of your colleagues with your new employer in a new business venture you lead. Such clauses are put into place to ensure your employer’s safety but could be harmful to you.
4. To review any non-disparagement clauses
Your severance agreement is likely to feature a non-disparagement clause that would limit you from saying or posting anything negative or demeaning about your employer and colleagues. This limitation would also apply to social media platforms, and if this bothers you, you should get it reviewed by an attorney. Your attorney would also advise you to get a non-disparagement limitation from your employer hence limiting them from bad-mouthing you. Your attorney would also advise you to have an agreement with your employer as to how they are likely to present you with a reference, that will affect your career in the future.
Losing your job can be a stressful experience as it is, and it shouldn’t further be riddled with you having to deal with clauses and agreements on your own. You should hence seek the services of an experienced attorney to help you navigate and understand your severance agreement in a better light.