Recently in Severance Agreement and Severance Package Negotiation Category

June 1, 2016

Pepsico Severance Agreement Lawyer - Separation Package Review and Negotiation Issues

Thumbnail image for Severance.Agreement.Lawyer.DPC.3.4.16.jpgOur Award Winning New York Severance Agreement Lawyer has counseled employees and former employees of Pepsico including its affiliates, subsidiaries or related companies (i.e., Frito Lay, Quaker Oats, etc.) Pepsico, which has its headquarters in Purchase, Westchester County, is one of the largest food and beverage producers in the world and reportedly has more than 270,000 employees. In recent years, the Company has instituted some layoffs. If you have been affected by a layoff or a job separation for other reasons (e.g., termination for cause, resignation, discrimination, harassment, retaliation), you should consult with an experienced employment lawyer to learn your rights and options.

Although companies in general are not required to provide severance pay, many do primarily in order to obtain a general release of claims. If you have been presented with a severance agreement, it is important to have it reviewed by an attorney before you decide whether to execute it or not. We have discussed severance issues before and some prior informational posts can be found here and here. Some issues to consider:

Continue reading "Pepsico Severance Agreement Lawyer - Separation Package Review and Negotiation Issues" »

March 6, 2016

What is a Severance Package? Should I Have it Reviewed by a Severance Agreement Attorney?

Thumbnail image for Severance.Agreement.Lawyer.DPC.3.4.16.jpgSeverance as the name suggests means an ending. A severance package may be offered when an employee is required to leave his or her job for any reason, recession, lack of work, etc. A severance package however is not automatically offered or required; in fact, except for limited circumstances, it is up to the company, and some companies don't offer such packages at all. Some exceptions include when you have an employment agreement requiring payment of severance or if the company has a policy or practice of providing severance. This policy could be unwritten but it may be difficult to prove. Let's take a look at why severance packages are offered and why you should have an attorney review one before you sign it (some agreements will even state that the Company advises you to seek legal counsel regarding its terms).

Continue reading "What is a Severance Package? Should I Have it Reviewed by a Severance Agreement Attorney?" »

March 4, 2016

New York Severance Agreement Lawyer Discusses Non-Disparagement Clauses

Non-Disparagement.Confidentiality.Severance.Lawyer.DPC.3.4.16.jpgOur NY Severance Package Lawyer is often asked to provide some tips and pointers in severance negotiations and contract review. Most people just focus on the amount of severance pay in a separation package but the non-economic terms can be critical as well. Many employers include a non-disparagement provision in their severance agreements. In general, a non-disparagement provision prohibits individuals from making any statement or taking any action that negatively affects your former employer, its products and services, and employees. This provision can have long lasting consequences.

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December 24, 2015

Morgan Stanley Severance Agreement Attorney

Male.Employee.Fired.Severance.Dollar.Phot.Club.12.24.15.jpgOur Award-Winning New York Severance Agreement Attorney has represented current and former employees of Morgan Stanley who were affected by layoffs, position eliminations or subject to other disciplinary action. It was reported that earlier this week, Morgan Stanley has started to lay off employees in its credit division including bond traders. Morgan Stanley is the sixth largest bank in the country based on assets and reportedly has 60,000 employees globally. Layoffs in the financial sector in general have been a function of business operations, regulations and competition. If you or someone you know was laid off or otherwise disciplined, contact our NY Severance Package Lawyer to discuss the facts and circumstances and determine options, rights and potential next steps.


Why It Is Important to Have Your Severance Agreement Reviewed By An Experienced Employment Law Attorney

It is never a good time to lose one's job especially around the holidays and when employers may not be looking to hire. Being unemployed is difficult enough but having a non-compete agreement or another form of a restrictive covenant can impede your ability to find another job in the financial services sector. Some severance agreements can include a restrictive covenant even if you did not sign one during your employment. Critically, severance agreements typically state that employees should not sign them without consulting an attorney. There is a good reason for them to be reviewed because they are generally written for the company's benefit, not necessarily yours. Furthermore, in addition to the inclusion of a restrictive covenant, the agreement can contain numerous post-employment obligations that can affect your job search process. Below are some reasons why it can be valuable for an attorney to review a severance agreement.

Point Number 1: Know What You Are Entitled To -- In general, employers are required to pay separating employees their accrued but unused vacation pay absent a written policy. This payment should be included with your final paycheck and should be made regardless of whether you sign the severance agreement or not. The severance pay amount is additional consideration that you would receive if you signed the separation agreement. Some companies will also pay for other forms of Paid Time Off (PTO) to separating employees but absent a policy or written agreement that is generally not required. It is worth noting that the New York State Department of Labor has also recently revised its policy on eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits and its interplay with severance pay. See the New York State fact sheet here. Finally, depending on the circumstances, you may be arguably entitled to a bonus payment for the prior calendar year.

Point Number 2: General Release of Claims -- Severance agreements typically include a waiver of any and all claims against the Company (and its related entities and officers). The waiver will generally include a release of known or unknown claims so if you find out something that is a smoking gun for a discrimination case months after you signed it, it is very likely that you will be precluded from pursuing a claim for monetary damages. That being said, some claims cannot be released as a matter of law and it may wise to negotiate a mutual release to protect you or a carve out for certain claims. Each situation is unique.

These are just two reasons for why you should not just sign a separation package. A greater discussion can be found here. We have discussed the topic of severance agreements often and have lectured on this issue to employees, attorneys and human resources professionals.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Severance.Pay.Green.Board.Dollar.Photo.Club.4.7.15.jpgIf you have been presented with a Severance Pay Package, contact our New York Employment Lawyer to learn your rights, options and whether we can help maximize the value of your package before you sign the agreement.

Disclaimer: Thank you for visiting our Blog. This blog provides general information and thoughts about various employment law issues primarily in the New York Tri-State area and occasionally in other areas. You are welcome to read the posts. However, do not construe any content on this blog as legal advice or the creation of an attorney-client relationship. Again, we provide the content only for informational purposes. You should not make decisions based information on our blog since the application of the law depends on the facts and each situation may be different. In addition, the law in most jurisdictions is different and changes constantly and we make no representations that any information on our blog has been updated. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from an experienced attorney in your state or jurisdiction. From time to time, a blog post may discuss a legal case - please note that the post may not contain the most to update information on the case as developments may have occurred after it was created.

June 24, 2015

New York Severance Agreement Lawyer: Mount Kisco Medical Group (MKMG) Layoffs

Thumbnail image for Severance.Pay.Green.Board.Dollar.Photo.Club.4.7.15.jpgOur Award-Winning New York Severance Negotiation Lawyer has counseled former employees of Mount Kisco Medical Group (MKMG) who were laid off, had their positions eliminated or who were adversely affected by disciplinary action. Recently, MKMG announced it was laying off 109 workers and reportedly offered them a minimum of six weeks of severance pay following a 90 day notice period. MKMG was established 70 years ago and reportedly has approximately 2,700 employees. It is one of the largest employers in the Westchester area. If you or someone you know was selected for a layoff or otherwise terminated, contact our NY Severance Package Attorney to discuss the situation and determine available rights and options.

Losing a job and an income can be a traumatic process for a family and understanding the legalese in a severance agreement that is presented during this process can be difficult. In general, an employee should not sign a severance agreement without speaking to an experienced employment attorney. The severance agreement is typically written primarily for the employer's benefit - not yours and often contains many post-employment obligations and restrictions on you. Below are some reasons why you should have an attorney review a severance agreement.

REASON ONE: WAIVER OF CLAIMS: In general, severance agreements include a General Release provision, which means that you are agreeing to release your former employer from almost all legal claims - known or unknown. Depending on your circumstances, you may have a claim that is worth more than the amount of severance offered. It is important to have an attorney to evaluate your specific situation and determine if you are waiving a valuable claim. Although they are certain claims that cannot be waived like filing a claim for unemployment insurance benefits, a separation agreement provides assurances to a company that you will not file a claim regarding your employment for money damages against it. In general, you cannot sign a severance agreement and sue your former employer for money damages based on conduct that occurred prior to your execution of the agreement.

REASON TWO: NON-COMPETITION AND NON-SOLICITATION OBLIGATIONS: A severance package agreement can include provisions that limit your ability to compete with your former employer and/or solicit your former employer's clients and employees. This is sometimes referred to as a "golden handcuffs" provision. This provision may seem innocuous but it can harm your ability to find new employment. Sometimes these provisions are merely recitations of provisions that were previously provided to you and agreed by you; however, some employers include these part of a severance agreement. It is important to understand their potential impact and determine if the restrictions are reasonable under your circumstances. A non-compete provision is not applicable to every employee and the reasonableness of the geographic and time limitation vary by circumstances. A common misconception is that non-compete agreements are not enforceable at all and are always thrown out by courts - that is not true. Courts have enforced non-competition agreements that are reasonably drafted - this is a fact specific analysis.

REASON THREE: TERMINATION OF HEALTH INSURANCE: One of the leading reasons that individuals go bankrupt or face serious financial hardships is result of incurring high medical bills while not having health insurance. Losing your job can be daunting enough but not having insurance can be a risky proposition for individuals and their families. In general, coverage under your former employer's healthcare plan terminates on your last day of employment. However, in some cases, it can be extended to the last day of the month you were employed - this depends on your employer's policy. You should receive written notification stating the exact date of termination of your coverage and your right to continue health insurance coverage at your expense pursuant to COBRA or state law equivalent. Depending on your circumstances and whether you have a claim, your former employer may agree to pay your health insurance premiums after your termination. Some employers will agree to pay your COBRA payments during the severance period while others may be amendable to alternative scenarios. It depends on the facts.

REASON FOUR: EFFECT ON UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE BENEFITS: You may be entitled to certain payments even if you do not sign the severance agreement. Moreover, the severance agreement can affect your ability to collect unemployment insurance benefits, which can be critical in this time. It is imperative that you understand your rights and obligations if you sign the severance agreement and if you do not. In addition, based on recent changes to state law severance payments can affect your ability to collect unemployment insurance benefits.

REASON FIVE: NO RE-EMPLOYMENT PROVISION: Depending the circumstances, a severance contract can include a No Re-employment provision stating that you cannot apply for re-employment with the Company and its affiliates (which are often not defined and can be vague). Depending on the size of your former employer, you may be prevented from working for a significant number of companies. Again, that is not ideal when you are looking for new employment.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Know.Your.Rights.Dollar.Photo.Club.3.9.15.jpgThe above issues are just a few reasons why you should review a severance agreement with an attorney immediately. Keep in that most agreements have a deadline for you to accept or reject them - the deadline may be 45 days, 21 days or a shorter time period - you should consult experienced counsel immediately to ensure a proper consideration process.

Disclaimer: Thank you for visiting our Blog. This blog provides general information and thoughts about various employment law issues primarily in the New York Tri-State area and occasionally in other areas. You are welcome to read the posts. However, do not construe any content on this blog as legal advice or the creation of an attorney-client relationship. Again, we provide the content only for informational purposes. You should not make decisions based information on our blog since the application of the law depends on the facts and each situation may be different. In addition, the law in most jurisdictions is different and changes constantly and we make no representations that any information on our blog has been updated. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from an experienced attorney in your state or jurisdiction. From time to time, a blog post may discuss a legal case - please note that the post may not contain the most to update information on the case as developments may have occurred after it was created.

April 7, 2015

Am I entitled to severance pay or a separation package from my former employer?

Severance.Pay.Green.Board.Dollar.Photo.Club.4.7.15.jpgThis is a question that our Award Winning New York Employment Lawyer is often asked. In general, employers are not required to provide severance pay to former employees except in limited circumstances. Some of these circumstances can include the following:

NUMBER ONE: If you have an employment contract or other agreement that states you are entitled to severance pay upon separation (or alternatively, you are entitled to a notice period prior to termination). A verbal agreement can come into play in these situations but proof can be an issue. Employment agreements are typically given to executives, sales personnel, management personnel and physicians but the terms can vary widely. It is important to review the terms of your agreement carefully as severance may be paid depending on the reason for your separation - (e.g., it is paid if your employment is terminated without case but not if your employment is terminated with cause).

NUMBER TWO: If you are a member of a union and the employer is subject to the terms and conditions of a collective bargaining agreement that includes a severance pay provision;

NUMBER THREE: If the company has a severance pay plan but even then it depends on the terms of the plan. Companies can define the terms of the severance plan including who is included and which separations are covered by the plan. In general, if a severance pay plan exists, a Summary Plan Description (SPD) should be available for review. In addition, depending on the facts, you be able to argue that the company's past practices of providing severance pay to similarly situated employees should entitle you to separation pay but these arguments can be difficult since not all of the details of the past practices are commonly known or public.

That being said, many companies provide severance pay to terminated employees in exchange for signing a general release and waiver of claims wherein you promise, among other things, not to sue the company. This release is valuable to the company. If you are presented with a severance agreement with a general release provision, you should consult an experienced employment lawyer to learn your rights and options and determine whether the agreement is reasonable under the facts surrounding your separation. If you have a strong claim against the company for sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation, or violation of other law, the amount of the severance pay may not be reasonable.

What If I am not offered a severance package?

Absent a severance agreement, employers in New York State are required to pay you for your accrued but unused vacation time unless they have a policy to the contrary. You should also receive your wages covering up and until the last day you worked for the company. Finally, if you participated in the company's health insurance plan, in general, the company should provide you with written notice of the last day of coverage and notice of your ability to continue coverage at your cost. Contrary to what most people believe, an employer is not required to provide a written notice explaining the reason for your termination. Finally, some claims cannot be waived in a separation agreement (e.g., right to file for unemployment insurance benefits and workers compensation injury).

Know.Your.Rights.Dollar.Photo.Club.3.9.15.jpgThis article is a short general discussion of a topic that our attorneys often discuss at greater length. You should consult an attorney regarding your specific situation as your options may vary. For example, depending on your former employer and nature of the separation, some statutes may require a notice period prior to your termination. If you would like to discuss your specific situation, contact our Award Winning Employment Law Attorney to confidentially learn your rights and options at (800) 893-9645.

Disclaimer: Thank you for visiting our Blog. This blog provides general information and thoughts about various employment law issues primarily in the New York Tri-State area and occasionally in other areas. You are welcome to read the posts. However, do not construe any content on this blog as legal advice or the creation of an attorney-client relationship. Again, we provide the content only for informational purposes. You should not make decisions based information on our blog since the application of the law depends on the facts and each situation may be different. In addition, the law in most jurisdictions is different and changes constantly and we make no representations that any information on our blog has been updated. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from an experienced attorney in your state or jurisdiction. From time to time, a blog post may discuss a legal case - please note that the post may not contain the most to update information on the case as developments may have occurred after it was created.

March 11, 2015

Former Sales Representative's Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Zillow Allowed to Proceed

sexual.harassment.dollar.photo.club.3.11.15.jpgOur New York Sexual Harassment Lawyer has been asked to comment on the ongoing litigation commenced by a former sales representative against Zillow Inc. The complaint was filed last year and alleges that there was a hostile work environment similar to an "adult frat house." Specifically, the complaint alleges that the "male supervisors ranked the plaintiff according to her breast size, sent pictures of their penis to her, and demanded sexual gratification and obedience by the plaintiff to continue her employment." Further, the plaintiff alleged that certain supervisors sent her emails referencing adult sex toys, requested pictures of her breasts and sent her numerous sexually harassing text messages. Some of the text messages were attached to the complaint. The Plaintiff alleges that the hostile work environment caused her performance to decline and that she was fired for failing to meet her sales goals. She claims she was offered a severance package but rejected it and elected to pursue a lawsuit.

The Company's Defense & The Motion to Dismiss

The company has denied any liability and has stated it will vigorously defend itself against the allegations. In fact, the company filed a motion to dismiss the complaint. Last month, the Court granted its motion, in part, by dismissing several claims but the main sexual harassment claim was allowed to proceed at this early stage. The Court's decision can be perceived as a win for both sides - the company was successful as certain claims were dismissed (i.e., civil harassment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligent retaliation and supervision, and retaliation claims) and the plaintiff was successful in that she can engage in discovery to prosecute her sexual harassment claim based on a hostile work environment. During discovery, parties can request relevant documents from the opposing party and depose witnesses. The information obtained could bolster or undercut the claims - some of the expected areas of inquiry will be whether any other employees were fired for failing to meet sales goals and whether there are emails or other communications regarding a hostile work environment. Discovery can be voluminous due to the multiple methods employees communicate in the workplace today (e.g., text messages, instant messages, emails, voice-mails, social media, etc.) Based on the information alleged to date, you can expect that discovery will be a battle for both sides.

Welcome or Unwelcome

An interesting aspect of the company's defense is its claim the alleged conduct was not unwelcome and the plaintiff regularly exchanged vulgar and inappropriate messages with the alleged harassers. As part of its motion to dismiss, the company claimed that the plaintiff's decision to only attach selected text messages to the complaint did not lead to an accurate depiction of the full relationship between the parties. The company alleged that the plaintiff reciprocated in sending vulgar and inappropriate text messages over the course of a two-year friendship.

One of the hallmarks in sexual harassment claims generally is that the conduct is unwelcome. That being said, the court stating the following in denying to dismiss the sexual harassment claim at this early stage - even if the plaintiff participated in the allegedly unwelcome sexual advances, as the company claims she did, she may have been unfairly subjected to work in a "sexually hostile" environment. Other employees have filed cases involving allegations of violations of employment law against the company and the same firm is representing some of those employees. As a result, discovery in this case could turn out to be helpful in other cases. This is a case worth watching.

Thumbnail image for Know.Your.Rights.Dollar.Photo.Club.3.9.15.jpgIf you have any questions about sexual harassment or what is acceptable in the workplace, feel free to contact our Award-Winning New York Sexual Harassment Attorney at (800) 893-9645.

Disclaimer: Thank you for visiting our Blog. This blog provides general information and thoughts about various employment law issues primarily in the New York Tri-State area and occasionally in other areas. You are welcome to read the posts. However, do not construe any content on this blog as legal advice or the creation of an attorney-client relationship. Again, we provide the content only for informational purposes. You should not make decisions based information on our blog since the application of the law depends on the facts and each situation may be different. In addition, the law in most jurisdictions is different and changes constantly and we make no representations that any information on our blog has been updated. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from an experienced attorney in your state or jurisdiction. From time to time, a blog post may discuss a legal case - please note that the post may not contain the most to update information on the case as developments may have occurred after it was created.

February 4, 2015

AOL Layoffs to Affect More Than 100 Employees - Our Lawyers Can Review and Analyze Your Severance Agreement

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Female.Employee.Fired.severance.jpgOur Award Winning New York Severance Agreement Lawyer has counseled former employees of AOL (including its subsidiaries and related entities), who were laid off, had their positions eliminated or were adversely affected by discipline or other means. Last Friday, AOL announced that it had restructured its workforce and laid off over 100 employees across several departments - sales, legal and human resources. The sales department appears to be the most affected as sales people were let go in favor of programmatic or automated ad sales. Some of the affected employees are from the tri-state area. If you or some you know was selected for a layoff or terminated and presented with an offer of severance, contact our Severance Package Attorney to learn your rights and options on a confidential basis. You may be able to increase the terms of your severance package. In the current job market, gaps of unemployment occur regularly and it can be difficult to obtain new employment quickly - as a result, it is imperative that you maximize the terms of your overall severance package. We have helped clients navigate while dealing with a lost job and income. In general, you should not sign a severance agreement without speaking with an experienced employment lawyer first - the agreement is written for your former employer's benefit, not necessarily yours.

The following five examples show how a severance agreement is your employer's benefit and why you should seek counsel immediately - be aware that most agreements have a deadline for you to accept or reject them - the deadline may be 45 days, 21 days or another date - to prevent a last minute or a pressured decision, you should seek counsel immediately:

FIVE EXAMPLES WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE YOUR SEVERANCE AGREEMENT REVIEWED

ONE: Almost all severance agreements will include a provision stating that you are agreeing to waive any and all claims against your former employer and release it from liability. This is valuable for your employer and it is something you must consider so you can weigh the strength of pursuing a claim ( and your options) versus resolving it initially. In essence, the company is securing your promise never to sue them or bring a claim. If you have a valuable claim against the Company, your severance amount should reflect that. You should speak with experienced employment lawyer to determine if you have a claim against your former employer and what is the value of such a claim. In general, you cannot sign the severance agreement and then sue your employer for actions that occurred during your employment. That being said there are a few exceptions to claims that cannot be waived under state law (e.g., unemployment insurance, workers compensation) but they are limited and may depend on state law.

TWO: A severance agreement may include restrictive covenants also known as a "golden handcuffs" clause which can limit your post-employment ability to compete or solicit future business or employment. This can be significant and negatively impact you for years after your termination and harm your job hunting prospects. It is critical to review these provisions carefully and understand how their potential impact on you. Not only could you be unemployed, your ability to find a new job could be made harder as well. A common misconception is that restrictive covenants are not enforceable - that is not always the case. Courts have enforced these provisions in the past and you should simply expect that they cannot be enforced.

THREE: One of the top reasons individuals go bankrupt is incurring high medical bills while not having medical insurance. Losing your job is daunting enough but not having insurance can be risky. In general, coverage under your former employer's healthcare plan terminates on your last day of employment. However, in some cases, it can be extended to the last day of the month you were employed - this depends on your employer's policies on health insurance. You should receive written notification from your former employer regarding the termination of your coverage. You should understand whether there are arguments for your former employer to continue paying your healthcare premiums after your termination or you should elect coverage under COBRA or state law.

FOUR: You could be entitled to certain payments even if you do not sign the severance agreement. Moreover, the severance agreement can affect your ability to collect unemployment insurance benefits, which can be critical in this time. It is imperative that you understand your rights and obligations if you sign the severance agreement and if you do not. In addition, based on recent changes to state law severance payments can affect your ability to collect unemployment insurance benefits.

FIVE: Depending the circumstances, a severance contract can include a re-employment provision stating that you cannot apply for re-employment with the Company and its affiliates (which are often not defined and can be vague). Depending on the size of the Company, you could be precluded for working for a significant number of companies. Again, that is not ideal when you are looking for new employment.

Call our Severance Attorneys at (800) 893-9645 to confidentially discuss your rights and options so that you can negotiate the best possible severance package you deserve to help you navigate through these difficult times. We will review your agreement paragraph by paragraph with you so you understand the ins/outs of your agreement. We will let you know how we can maximize your severance package.

Read our disclaimer on the next page.

Continue reading "AOL Layoffs to Affect More Than 100 Employees - Our Lawyers Can Review and Analyze Your Severance Agreement" »

January 13, 2015

I was not paid my wages -- what can I do?

Many employees and former employees ask our award-winning New York Employment Lawyer this question. This can be a difficult and delicate situation. Our employment law attorneys have helped clients get paid whether it was unpaid wages, bonuses, commissions or shares. There are several things you should considering doing. First, you may want to discuss the reason for non-payment with the company and see if the company agrees with you the fact you are owed money and the amount you are owed. It may helpful to get the Company's acknowledgement in writing. Second, if an acknowledgement is not an option, make sure you keep track of all hours that you worked that you were not paid for. Although your employer is required by law to maintain accurate time and payroll records, in some instances they do not and quite frankly, there may disputes between your hours worked and the company's records. Your records could be helpful in pursuing a claim. Unpaid wage claims by New York State based employees are typically are brought under two laws - The Fair Labor Standards Act and The New York Labor Law.

FEDERAL LAW -- The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the federal law that governs minimum wage, overtime pay, and recordkeeping regarding full-time and part-time workers in the private sector and in public sector. It is important to note that the federal law does not apply to every employer - in short, it applies to employers whose annual gross volume of sales made or business done is more than $500,000 and who have workers engaged in interstate commerce, producing goods for interstate commerce, or handling, selling, or otherwise working on goods or materials that have been moved in or produced for such commerce by any person. If a company is engaged in interstate commerce but the gross sales volume is slightly less than $500,000.00, in certain circumstances, a claim could be filed and litigation/discovery could focus on the monetary limit. In general, the time to bring a claim under the federal law is 3 years for willful violations and 2 years for other violations. Liquidated damages intended to be a penalty may also be available.

STATE LAW -- The New York Labor Law (State Labor Law) applies to many more employers and does not have $500k gross annual sales requirement. Importantly, the statute of limitations time to bring a claim is six years. As a result, the state law is broader is time and scope and affords greater protection to employees. The state statute also provides for penalty in the form of liquidated damages. Connecticut and New Jersey have state statutes as well.

Each situation is different and the remedies and enforcement mechanisms vary under the statutes. Because the statute of limitations can be running and limit the time period within you can pursue your claim, it is important to seek counsel immediately. Other laws could impact potential claims as well.

Some common violations occur (i) when an individual works but is not paid for any of the time worked; (ii) when a non-exempt individual works but is not paid for any overtime pay; (iii) an individual is paid at the wrong rate of pay; or (iv) when an individual is not paid an earned bonus or commission. In addition, some workers may have a claim for misclassification if they were deemed independent contractors instead of as employees.

Theft of an employee's wages is a serious issue and should not be tolerated. Contact our NYC Employment Lawyer for a confidential consultation to learn your rights.

Disclaimer: 

Thank you for visiting our Blog. This blog provides general information and thoughts about various employment law issues primarily in the New York Tri-State area and occasionally in other areas. You are welcome to read the posts. However, do not construe any content on this blog as legal advice or the creation of an attorney-client relationship. Again, we provide the content only for informational purposes. You should not make decisions based information on our blog since the application of the law depends on the facts and each situation may be different. In addition, the law in most jurisdictions is different and changes constantly and we make no representations that any information on our blog has been updated. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from an experienced employment law attorney in your state or jurisdiction.

September 27, 2013

Sample Severance Agreements - Know the risks before just hitting print and filling in the blanks or using an old agreement

Don't get me wrong - form agreements can be a terrific resource but in the employment law context they are not one size fits all. When used incorrectly, form agreements can also be very dangerous and have disastrous consequences. Over the years, I have meticulously prepared hundreds of employment agreements, severance agreements and other employment-related agreements for specific client needs but still am surprised at how often some businesses will use an old agreement or sample agreement online (from who knows what site) for a different purpose without realizing the risks associated with doing so. This blog post briefly describes some of the most common errors when using a template agreement - before you take any employment-related action, companies should contact experienced employment law counsel to learn specific legal obligations to ensure all steps taken are in accordance with the law. Our award winning employment law attorneys have advised and counseled many businesses regarding a range of workforce related matters including severance agreements and issues related to separation. Contact our office if you would like to discuss a specific legal issue and how to best protect your rights and interest. As the examples below demonstrate, it is critical to speaking to an experienced employment law attorney before you take any decisions.

EXAMPLES OF THREE COMMON MISTAKES

1. Outdated or inapplicable Law: Employment law is a constantly changing area of the law where new court decisions and governmental positions are issued on a frequent basis. These decisions can affect the validity of the agreement, in full or in part. It is not a safe assumption that an old agreement is current and contains all of the legal requirements. If you are going to provide severance pay in exchange for a release of claims, you should get what you bargained for and expected - not an ineffective agreement or invalid clause. Second, it is not wise to use an agreement that was prepared for an employment situation in a different state or a different scenario. For example, a severance agreement drafted for an employee in New York may not contain all of the legal requirements for an employee in California. State laws vary and some states may require specific language and without this magic language - the full effect of your agreement may be compromised. In addition, in order to waive certain claims, specific language needs to be included and if the other agreement did not include it, you would not know it was necessary for your situation.

2. Not a fit for your organization: Not every employment-related statute applies to every company. For example, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits employment discrimination in certain protected categories generally applies to companies with twenty or more employees. Under certain situations, there is specific language required in a release agreement to include a waiver of a Title VII claim. Some companies have paid severance money to employees pursuant to a poorly drafted agreement only to have the employee sue them later because the release agreement was not effective. I don't have to tell you that is a disaster - you have now in essence funded the employee's lawsuit against you. Not ideal.

3. Does not fully consider impact on non-compete and confidentiality agreements previously signed by an employee: If an employee signed a non-competition agreement, ideally, an agreement should mention that all obligations in that agreement remain in effect. A form or old agreement may neglect to do so and may in fact do the opposite and negate the non-compete provision by including a clause that states the severance agreements contains all understandings and obligations regarding the employee. This could effectively eviscerate the employee's non-compete obligations if not done properly.

The above examples briefly illustrate the importance of speaking with an experienced employment law before you take any action so you can develop an appropriate action plan. You may think that using a form agreement or an old agreement could save you a few dollars but it could actually turn out to cost you much more including taking away your time from running your business.

Continue reading "Sample Severance Agreements - Know the risks before just hitting print and filling in the blanks or using an old agreement" »

September 7, 2013

Severance Lawyer Update: Westchester Medical Center, Cablevision and Citigroup Layoffs Announced

Our New York Severance Pay Lawyers have counseled many employees of Westchester Medical Center (WMC), Cablevision and Citigroup, who were laid off, had their positions eliminated or were otherwise disciplined. Recently, all three companies who have a substantial presence in Westchester County announced that they intend to eliminate hundreds of positions. These companies employ many Westchester residents. It is crucial for employees to understand their rights and options if their jobs are at risk.

If you were selected for a reduction in force or otherwise terminated and offered a severance agreement, contact our Westchester Employment Lawyers to confidentially learn your rights and see if and how we can maximize the terms of your severance package. During these sluggish economic times where gaps of unemployment are common and it is often difficult to find new employment quickly, it is imperative that you maximize your severance package. We can help you during the difficult process of losing your job. We have counseled hundreds of employees who have been presented with a severance agreement. You should not sign the agreement without speaking with an experienced employment lawyer first - the agreement is written for your former employer's benefit, not necessarily yours.

The following are just a few examples of why the agreement is not necessarily in your benefit and why you need experienced counsel immediately:

1. Generally, most severance agreements include a release provision that states you are agreeing to never sue your former employer for any reason in the future. There are some exceptions but for the most part - this is why companies provide with you severance. They are buying your promise never to sue them again. If you have a valuable claim against the Company, your severance amount should reflect that. You should speak with experienced employment lawyer to determine if you have a claim against your former employer and what is the value of such a claim. Generally, you cannot sign the severance agreement and then sue your employer for actions that occurred during your employment. Accordingly, it is important for you to act now.

2. Many severance agreements include non-compete and non-solicitation provisions that can negatively impact you for years after your termination and hurt your ability to find a new job. It is critical to review these provisions carefully and understand how they can impact you. Not only could you be unemployed, your ability to find a new job could be made harder as well.

3. Generally, your healthcare coverage will terminate on your last day of employment. As you most likely know, healthcare costs are significant and many former employees cannot afford continuing coverage during periods of unemployment. You should understand whether there is a basis for the company to continue paying your healthcare costs after your termination.

4. You may be entitled to certain payments even if you do not sign the severance agreement. Moreover, the severance agreement can affect your ability to collect unemployment insurance benefits, which can be critical in this time. It is imperative that you understand your rights and obligations if you sign the severance agreement and if you do not.

5. The agreement may preclude you from applying for re-employment with the Company and its affiliates and subsidiaries (which are often not defined). Depending on the size of the Company, you could be precluded for working for a significant number of companies. Again, that is not ideal when you are looking for new employment.

Call our NY, NJ & CT Severance Package Attorneys at (800) 893-9645 to confidentially discuss your rights and options so that you can negotiate the best possible severance package you deserve to help you navigate through these difficult times. We will review your agreement paragraph by paragraph with you so you understand the ins/outs of your agreement. We will let you know how we can maximize your severance package.

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May 17, 2013

HSBC Layoff & Severance Agreement Attorney - 14,000 employees to be laid off

Our New York Severance Pay Lawyers have counseled many employees of HSBC, who were laid off, had their positions eliminated or were otherwise disciplined. Recently, HSBC announced that it intends to eliminate 14,000 positions, which is equivalent to 5% of its worldwide workforce, within the next 3 years. HSBC has offices throughout NY State including corporate offices in Buffalo and at 452 Fifth Avenue, New York City. It is important for employees to understand their rights and options if their jobs are at risk.

If you were selected for a reduction in force or otherwise terminated and offered a severance agreement, contact our HSBC employment lawyers to confidentially learn your rights and see if and how we can maximize the terms of your severance package. During these sluggish economic times where gaps of unemployment are common and it is often difficult to find new employment quickly, it is imperative that you maximize your severance package. We can help you during the difficult process of losing your job. We have counseled hundreds of employees who have been presented with a severance agreement. You should not sign the agreement without speaking with an experienced employment lawyer first - the agreement is written for your former employer's benefit, not necessarily yours.

The following are just a few examples of why the agreement is not necessarily in your benefit and why you need experienced counsel immediately:

1. Generally, most severance agreements include a release provision that states you are agreeing to never sue your former employer for any reason in the future. There are some exceptions but for the most part - this is why companies provide with you severance. They are buying your promise never to sue them again. If you have a valuable claim against the Company, your severance amount should reflect that. You should speak with experienced employment lawyer to determine if you have a claim against your former employer and what is the value of such a claim. Generally, you cannot sign the severance agreement and then sue your employer for actions that occurred during your employment. Accordingly, it is important for you to act now.

2. Many severance agreements include non-compete and non-solicitation provisions that can negatively impact you for years after your termination and hurt your ability to find a new job. It is critical to review these provisions carefully and understand how they can impact you. Not only could you be unemployed, your ability to find a new job could be made harder as well.

3. Generally, your healthcare coverage will terminate on your last day of employment. As you most likely know, healthcare costs are significant and many former employees cannot afford continuing coverage during periods of unemployment. You should understand whether there is a basis for the company to continue paying your healthcare costs after your termination.

4. You may be entitled to certain payments even if you do not sign the severance agreement. Moreover, the severance agreement can affect your ability to collect unemployment insurance benefits, which can be critical in this time. It is imperative that you understand your rights and obligations if you sign the severance agreement and if you do not.

5. The agreement may preclude you from applying for re-employment with the Company and its affiliates and subsidiaries (which are often not defined). Depending on the size of the Company, you could be precluded for working for a significant number of companies. Again, that is not ideal when you are looking for new employment.

Call our NY, NJ & CT Severance Package Attorneys at (800) 893-9645 to confidentially discuss your rights and options so that you can negotiate the best possible severance package you deserve to help you navigate through these difficult times. We will review your agreement paragraph by paragraph with you so you understand the ins/outs of your agreement. We will let you know how we can maximize your severance package.

Continue reading "HSBC Layoff & Severance Agreement Attorney - 14,000 employees to be laid off" »

September 27, 2012

Bank of America Severance Package Lawyers - 16,000 employees to be laid off by BOA

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for above-the-bar-logo-no12.jpgOur New York, New Jersey and Connecticut Severance Pay Attorneys have counseled many employees of Bank of America (BOA) who have been laid off, had their positions eliminated or been otherwise disciplined. Recently, Bank of America, the 2nd largest U.S. Bank, announced that it plans to cut 16,000 jobs by the end of the year. The company plans to begin layoffs in the U.S. on or about September 27, 2012. As of the end of its 2nd financial quarter, the Company had over 275,460 employees. This reduction in workforce could cut its headcount to 260,000, making it smaller than Citigroup, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase.

If you were selected for a reduction in force or otherwise terminated, contact our Bank of America employment lawyers to confidentially learn your rights and see if and how we can maximize your severance package. During these sluggish economic times where gaps of unemployment are common and it is often difficult to find new employment quickly, it is imperative that you maximize your severance package. We can help you during the difficult process of losing your job. We have counseled hundreds of employees who have been presented with a severance agreement. You should not sign the agreement without speaking with an experienced employment lawyer first - the agreement is written for your former employer's benefit, not necessarily yours.

The following are just a few examples of why the agreement is not necessarily in your benefit and why you need experienced counsel immediately:

1. Generally, most severance agreements include a release provision that states you are agreeing to never sue your former employer for any reason in the future. There are some exceptions but for the most part - this is why companies provide with you severance. They are buying your promise never to sue them again. If you have a valuable claim against the Company, your severance amount should reflect that. You should speak with experienced employment lawyer to determine if you have a claim against your former employer and what is the value of such a claim. Generally, you cannot sign the severance agreement and then sue your employer for actions that occurred during your employment. Accordingly, it is important for you to act now.

2. Many severance agreements include non-compete and non-solicitation provisions that can negatively impact you for years after your termination and hurt your ability to find a new job. It is critical to review these provisions carefully and understand how they can impact you. Not only could you be unemployed, your ability to find a new job could be made harder as well.

3. Generally, your healthcare coverage will terminate on your last day of employment. As you most likely know, healthcare costs are significant and many former employees cannot afford continuing coverage during periods of unemployment. You should understand whether there is a basis for the company to continue paying your healthcare costs after your termination.

4. You may be entitled to certain payments even if you do not sign the severance agreement. Moreover, the severance agreement can affect your ability to collect unemployment insurance benefits, which can be critical in this time. It is imperative that you understand your rights and obligations if you sign the severance agreement and if you do not.

5. The agreement may preclude you from applying for re-employment with the Company and its affiliates and subsidiaries (which are often not defined). Depending on the size of the Company, you could be precluded for working for a significant number of companies. Again, that is not ideal when you are looking for new employment.

Call our NY, NJ & CT Severance Package Attorneys at (800) 893-9645 to confidentially discuss your rights and options so that you can negotiate the best possible severance package you deserve to help you navigate through these difficult times. We will review your agreement paragraph by paragraph with you so you understand the ins/outs of your agreement. We will let you know how we can maximize your severance package.

Continue reading "Bank of America Severance Package Lawyers - 16,000 employees to be laid off by BOA" »

June 6, 2012

Severance Package Lawyer Update: Verizon to Cut 1,700 Jobs Through Voluntary Buyout

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for above-the-bar-logo-no12.jpgVerizon Communications Inc. ("Verizon") recently offered exit packages to 1,700 employees to voluntarily leave the company. The telecommunications giant, which is the country's second largest phone company, is offering buyouts to technicians and call center workers in 12 states and Washington D.C. where it operates its land line network.

Although Verizon's wireless network has been growing fast, its landline revenue fell 1.3 percent last year. The economy and competition from cable companies as well as wireless operators has contributed to Verizon's landline drop. Rich Young, a spokesman for Verizon stated that "layoffs are a tool of absolute last resort . . . the reality is, the business has changed, and we are adjusting our head count to meet those changes."

Layoffs are on the rise across the corporate America. Business consultant firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas reported that the computer industry has laid off 32,599 workers to date this year, while the transportation industry has cut 24,193 jobs and the consumer products industry has cut 21,846.

No matter what industry you work in, how important your job is, how well your company is doing, or even how well a different division in your company is performing, you should always be prepared for the worst case scenario. The following are just a few tips to keep in mind if you are ever faced with losing your job:

  • If you hear rumors that your company might be laying off workers, start planning whether or not you think you might lose your job. Don't quit! If you quit or resign, you lose the ability to claim unemployment insurance or a severance package which may be offered. Keep in mind that your company does not have to give you a severance agreement. It is completely optional but more and more companies are offering these packages to prevent potential litigation.
  • Update your resume and start networking. Remember that you're in a stronger position to find another job while you are still employed.
  • Figure out your expenses and your monetary resources to determine your financial health. By knowing your financial needs and how much income you need every month, you will be in a better position to choose which benefits are important to you to help you better negotiate a severance package suitable to your needs.
  • If you do lose your job, don't panic. Remember to stay calm and professional. If you are offered a severance agreement, do not sign it immediately. Ask for time to review the document and to have your attorney look at it. It is imperative that you know what rights you are signing away. If you think you might have a claim against the company for any type of employment discrimination, including race, national origin, age, sex, or religion, consider hiring one of our attorneys to review your agreement.
  • Make sure you negotiate your severance pay. Talk to your employer about the difficult job market and the financial impact of the layoff. Don't by shy about reminding your employer about your accomplishments and how you helped the company increase its profits or how you brought in new clients.
  • With the expensive cost of healthcare, negotiate to have your employer pay for your health coverage until you find a new job. Also try to have your life insurance and disability insurance covered until your next employment or as long as possible.

Our attorneys have helped many laid off workers negotiate the best possible severance agreement and financial package while ensuring that they were not signing away any of their legal rights. If you have lost your job, call our Severance Package Attorneys at Villanueva & Sanchala at (800) 893-9645 to help you evaluate your rights and options during this trying time.

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February 13, 2012

Severance Package Lawyer Update: PepsiCo to Layoff Thousands of Employees

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for above-the-bar-logo.jpgSnacks and beverage PepsiCo recently announced restructuring plans to cut about 8,700 jobs in order to save about $1.5 billion in costs. The company stated that it will cut jobs in 30 countries and that less than 2,000 of the layoffs will take place in the U.S. PepsiCo, which is based in Purchase, New York, employs about 100,000 workers in the U.S. The Company has stated it plans to layoff 145 employees in Westchester County (80 positions in Purchase; 50 at the bottling facility in Somers; and 15 at the R&D operations in Valhalla). If you are one of these laid off employees in the U.S., call our experienced Severance Attorneys to discuss your rights and options and to help you negotiate a better compensation package.

The job cuts represent less than 3% of PepsiCo's 300,000 global workforce. Although it is planning cuts, it plans to increase its advertising and marketing spending on its other brands by $500 to $600 million this year "with particular focus on North America."

This news from PepsiCo comes at a time when its Chief Executive Indra Nooyi said that the company had an 8% annual growth in earnings per share over the last five years and shareholders received about $30 billion back in dividends and share repurchases.

PepsiCo is the 6th largest employer in Westchester, employing about 3,000 employees. PepsiCo has a bottling operation in Somers, a beverage research and development center in Valhalla and its global headquarters in Purchase. Just last week, it helped launch the Hudson Valley Food and Beverage Alliance which will unite local companies in a joint effort to market their products worldwide.

Considering PepsiCo's involvement in Westchester and that the company has been doing so well over the past several years, it's layoff announcement is especially shocking to its employees who thought they were secure in their employment working for a solid company. No matter who you work for or how strong you think your company is, you should always be prepared for such news. The following are just a few tips to keep in mind in case you are laid off or you think you might lose your job:

  • In the event your employer offers you a severance package, don't rush to sign it. Often times, companies offer these severance agreements to prevent former employees from bringing any employment claims that might have occurred during their employment. Make sure you are not signing away any claims you may have for discrimination based on age, gender, national origin, race, or retaliation. Consult with one of our experienced attorneys to ensure that you are getting the best possible severance package.
  • Don't sign any non-competition, non-solicitation clauses, or non-disclosure statements without consulting our experienced attorneys. Ask for time to review and think about any documents they want you to sign. For example, if you're in sales, you don't want to limit yourself geographically or be forced to relocate your family. If you have any special skills or a client list, you want to be able to use it when you are searching for your next job or to help you negotiate a better severance agreement.
  • Keep up to date in your area of employment and current with any training your field may have. For example, if you are IT worker, may sure you know the latest computer programs and news developments in this area. If you work for a hospital, make sure you know what is going on in the health profession. You can make yourself much more marketable by maintaining your expertise and knowledge of what is happening in your industry.
  • Most importantly, stay calm and professional if you lose your job. You may need references from your old supervisor who may also be able to refer you to any job openings he hears of.

If you have recently lost your job, call our Severance Package Attorneys at Villanueva & Sanchala at (800) 893-9645 to help you negotiate the best possible agreement for your needs. Our attorneys have helped many laid off employees get better financial packages and ensure that they were not signing away any rights.

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