Recently in Severance Packages, Severance Agreements, & Severance Negotiations Category

September 27, 2013

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

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for above-the-bar-logo-no12.jpgDon'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 Outdated or inapplicable Law: Employment law is a constantly changing area of the law where new court decisions and governmental positions are issued on a frequent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

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for above-the-bar-logo-no12.jpgOur 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.

Continue reading "Severance Lawyer Update: Westchester Medical Center, Cablevision and Citigroup Layoffs Announced" »

May 17, 2013

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

Thumbnail image for above-the-bar-logo-no12.jpgOur 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.

Continue reading "Severance Package Lawyer Update: Verizon to Cut 1,700 Jobs Through Voluntary Buyout " »

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.

Continue reading "Severance Package Lawyer Update: PepsiCo to Layoff Thousands of Employees" »

February 7, 2012

Amid Layoffs & Restructuring, Make Sure You Carefully Evaluate Your Severance Package

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for above-the-bar-logo.jpgPharmaceutical companies have recently announced thousands of planned layoffs. Pharmaceutical giant Novartis announced last month that it plans to cut 1,960 jobs in the U.S. as part of its restructuring. Novartis plans to cut 1,630 sales positions in the field and about 330 positions at its New Jersey headquarters. The job cuts are part of its restructuring due to the expiration of its patent for its hypertension drug Diovan and the failure of a clinical study into another hypertension drug, Tekturna. Novartis expects the job cuts to save it $450 million a year from 2013 after an initial charge of $160 million which will be booked in the first quarter of 2012.

Drug maker AstraZeneca has also recently announced that it plans to cut 7,300 jobs over the next three years. AstraZeneca's cuts also come as a result of restructuring because it is anticipating its revenues to decline as some of drugs, which are about to lose their patent protection, will face competition from generic drugs

Not knowing when you will find your next job or how you will pay your bills can be terrifying and leave you angry. If you have been laid off or are about to be laid off, stay professional and don't say anything that you might regret. Remember that you are not the only person being laid off. By staying calm, you can you can have a better handle on your options and your rights. The following are few tips to keep in mind when you are being laid off or about to be laid off:

  • The most important thing to remember is that you don't want to burn your bridges. You will need references when looking for your next job. Your old supervisor may even be able to refer you to job openings at another company. Stay in touch with your colleagues who also might be able to help you once they have found a job.
  • You are not entitled to a severance agreement but many employers today are providing separation packages. Most companies offer these packages in order to prevent employees from suing for any employment claims that might have risen during their employment. In the event you are offered a severance package, make sure you are not signing away any potential claims you might have based on age, gender, race, national origin, or retaliation. Our attorneys have helped negotiate better severance packages for many laid off employees. Consult with one of our experienced severance attorneys to ensure that your rights are protected.
  • If you have a specialized skill or you're in sales, beware of signing any non-compete or non-disclosure clauses. For example, if you're in sales, your client list is your greatest asset when searching for that next job. Be careful of any clauses in a severance package limiting where you can work or which clients you can contact.

If you have recently been laid off, call our Severance Package Attorneys at Villanueva & Sanchala at (800) 893-9645 to discuss your rights and options during this difficult time. Our attorneys can help you evaluate your severance package to ensure that you are not signing away any rights and getting the best severance package possible.

Continue reading "Amid Layoffs & Restructuring, Make Sure You Carefully Evaluate Your Severance Package" »

December 12, 2011

Laid Off Employees: Don't Sign that Severance Agreement Without Consulting Your Attorney

above-the-bar-logo-no12.jpgCitibank recently announced that it plans to cut 4,500 jobs over the next few quarters. At a financial services conference at Goldman Sachs & Co., Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit stated that the layoffs are part of the banks effort to reduce costs given the bank's decreased revenues and "unprecedented" market conditions. Citibank will be taking a $400 million pre-tax charge related to reductions, including severance pay in its 4th quarter statements.

CitiGroup is the third biggest U.S. bank by assets and employed about 267,000 people as of September 30th. The 4,500 work force reduction amounts to about 2% of CitiGroup's total employees. The layoffs are planned to take place over the next few quarters and will affect employees from its different businesses. Our attorneys have counseled many laid off employees in the financial and banking sector and helped them to obtain the best severance package possible.

Most of the cuts are expected to come from Citigroup's back office and investment banking operations. London based investment bankers were already laid off this past weeks and several hundred jobs in Europe, the Middle East, and the Africa region are also expected to be cut. Since Pandit took rein of Citigroup in 2007, he has cut down hundreds of billions of dollars in assets, strengthened its risk controls, and paid back the $45 million bailout money it received in 2008 to prevent its collapse. Pandit's cost cutting plan to lighten Citigroup's load has resulted in massive layoffs.

Citigroup is not the only bank engaging in massive layoffs. According to Bloomberg data, the banking and financial industry has cut over 200,000 jobs throughout the world just in 2011. For example, Bank of America announced its plan just a few months ago to lay off 30,000 employees over the next couple of years. This past summer, HSBC also said that it planned to cut 30,000 worldwide by 2013 as well as sell half of its retail bank branches in the U.S.

If you are in the banking or financial industry, know your rights in the event you are laid off. Although losing your job and security can be devastating, it is imperative that you stay calm and don't sign any severance agreement without consulting our experienced Severance Attorneys. For example, if you are laid off from Citigroup, you know that it has already set aside money related to severance pay. Our attorneys can help you figure out your strengths and any potential claims you may have to obtain the best possible severance package. Also keep in mind with massive layoffs that State and federal law require your employer to give advanced notice of being laid off. For example, under New York's Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act ("WARN Act"), if a business has 50 or more full time employees and plans to lay off 33% of its workforce or 250 or more workers, it must give 90 days notice. These are just a few things to consider when you are laid off.

In this time of massive layoffs and restructuring in the financial industry, it is crucial to know your rights and options to protect yourself during any period of unemployment you might have to endure. If you have been recently laid off, call our Severance Attorneys at Villanueva & Sanchala at (800) 893-9645 to help you figure out if you're former employer is giving you the best possible severance package you deserve. Our attorneys have negotiated better packages clients let go from many Fortune 500 companies.

Continue reading "Laid Off Employees: Don't Sign that Severance Agreement Without Consulting Your Attorney" »

December 6, 2011

Severance Pay Issues for 30,000 employees laid off by Bank of America

above-the-bar-logo-no12.jpgBank of America ("BofA") recently announced that it started to layoff employees as part of its restructuring plan to eliminate 30,000 jobs "over the next few years." With the massive layoff, BofA hopes to save $5 billion per year. However, this means that you as well as many of your colleagues will need to find new employment. Not knowing how long that may take, it is crucial to leave your former employer with the best possible severance package to cushion yourself till you find your next job.

Bank of America is a multinational banking and financial services company and the second largest U.S. bank holding company by assets. It is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina and serves clients in over 150 countries. Along with Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo, BofA is considered to be on the Big Four Banks in the country. With the European debt crisis and sluggish U.S. economy, many banks and financial companies are terminating thousands of employees to cut costs.

We have counseled many former banking and financial sector employees who have been laid off. As each situation is different, contact us to learn about your specific termination rights at your workplace. The following are some general tips to keep in mind when being laid off:

  • Stay calm and don't say anything you might regret. Remember that you will probably need your old manager or supervisor for a reference when you start looking for another job. They might even be able to refer you to someone they know at another company looking for someone with your skills. In other words, don't burn your bridges when you get laid off.
  • Your employer is not required to give you a severance package but the growing tendency today is to provide a separation package. Companies use this as a way to preemptively avoid any risk of employees suing for wrongful termination, discrimination, or sexual harassment. Make sure you are not signing away any claims you might have against the company based on age, gender, race, sexual orientation, or retaliation. For example, out of the 500 highest earning people who were laid off, were they also all the older employees? Every situation is different and will depend on the facts. Consult with an attorney to make sure you are not signing away rights and that you are getting the best possible severance package. Our Attorneys have helped many laid off employees use their potential claims as leverage to negotiate a better severance package.
  • With rising health care costs, extended health insurance is a very important issue that could cost you thousands. If your former employer has more than 20 employees and offers your health insurance, except in very limited circumstances, it must offer you the opportunity to continue health insurance coverage at your expense for 18 months. This may still be cheaper than you finding an individual policy so make sure you ask for it.
  • If you are offered a severance package, be wary of any non-compete or non-disclosure clauses. You don't want to limit your ability to get another job. Our attorneys can help you determine the enforceability and fairness of any such clauses.

These are just a few considerations to keep in mind if you are laid off. Our attorneys have helped hundreds of terminated employees know their rights and obtain the best possible separation packages. If you have recently been laid off, call our Severance Attorneys at Villanueva & Sanchala at (800) 893-9645 to help you make sure you are aware of all your legal options.


Continue reading "Severance Pay Issues for 30,000 employees laid off by Bank of America" »

May 5, 2011

Severance Pay Q&A: I just got laid off from my job. Am I Entitled to a Severance Package?

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for above-the-bar-logo-no12.jpgNo. Unless there is a contractual obligation or a controlling employment policy requirement, an employer does not have to pay severance pay to a separating employee. Often, this is hard reality for long-time employees who have devoted their life to the Company. However, generally, employees are entitled to accrued vacation pay unless there is a contrary company policy.

In addition, separating employees could be entitled to 60 or 90 days notice under the New York State and Federal WARN acts, respectively, if an employer lays off a triggering amount of its workforce.

Even though employers in the United States are generally not required to provide severance, unlike employers in numerous other countries, many employers do so in order to obtain a signed release of a waiver of all claims against the company. If you are given a Severance Package or Severance Pay Agreement, you should have an experienced employment lawyer review it before you sign it so that you know your rights and receive the maximum amount of compensation. If you are over 40 years old, employers must give you atleast 21 or 45 days to review the Agreement in order to obtain a full release of age discrimination claims. However, if you are under 40 years old and are not let go as part of a reduction in force, your employer may give less time to review your separation agreement.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for top.lawyers.arrive.mag.2011.jpgYou should never sign an agreement without taking it home and properly considering its consequences and having an experienced employment lawyer review it. Contact our Severance Agreement Lawyers at (800) 893-9645 to learn how to maximize the value of your severance package. Our Severance Pay Lawyers will review your agreement with you paragraph by paragraph and analyze whether you have any employment law claims of discrimination, harassment, or otherwise against the company.

Continue reading "Severance Pay Q&A: I just got laid off from my job. Am I Entitled to a Severance Package?" »

February 21, 2011

Severance Package Negotiations Q&A: Is Severance Pay Taxable?

above-the-bar-logo-no12.jpgThis is a very common question received by our New York Severance Package Attorneys. It is important to seek the advice of your accountant regarding taxation issues but here are some general tips. Generally, yes, severance pay is considered taxable as wages. In addition, payments you receive for accrued but unused vacation days and sick days are taxable. However, generally, your former employer's payments to your health insurance provider for continued coverage under COBRA may not be attributed as income to you and may be tax-free to you. There could be potential tax consequences of payments for stock options, pension credits and outplacement services as well. Our New York Severance Package Lawyers have negotiated many severance pay agreements and can help you understand and maximize the terms of your severance package. Again you should seek the advice of your tax professional regarding your specific tax issues as we are not tax attorneys and cannot provide any specific advice.

February 10, 2011

Severance Package Lawyer Update: Should My Severance Pay Include Payment for Accrued Vacation Days?

Thumbnail image for top.lawyers.arrive.mag.2011.jpgThis is a common question that our New York and New Jersey Severance Pay Lawyers regularly receive from our clients. In New York, except in very limited circumstances, employers are required to pay employees for unused accrued vacation pay upon termination of employment. Many employees mistakenly believe that they accrue full vacation time (e.g., two weeks) upon their date of hire. Generally that is not true. Most companies have a schedule wherein vacation time accrues on a monthly basis. For example, if an employee only worked six full months, that employee may have only accrued half of his or her vacation allotment. In most cases, employees should receive payment for their accrued vacation pay even if they do not sign a Severance Package. Although it is not common in New York, employers may require employees to forfeit their vacation pay unless certain criteria such as signing a Severance Package. In order for employers avail themselves of this benefit, they must notify their employees in writing of the conditions regarding forfeiture of vacation pay.

In New Jersey, generally employers are not required to pay accrued and unused vacation pay to separating employees. However, our Severance Pay Lawyers have successfully argued that our clients should receive vacation pay based on several legal arguments. An experienced employment attorney can negotiate more favorable terms of your severance pay agreement. In recent years, there has been increased litigation, including class actions, regarding the accrual, capping, forfeiture and payment of vacation pay.

Call now to speak with one of our experienced Severance Package Lawyers to discuss the terms of your severance agreement - (800) 893-9645.

Continue reading "Severance Package Lawyer Update: Should My Severance Pay Include Payment for Accrued Vacation Days? " »

February 8, 2011

New York Severance Pay Package FAQ's for Investment Bankers, Physicians and Executives

above-the-bar-logo-no12.jpgQ: I've worked for the same investment bank for 4 years and I am nervous that I may get laid off. Is my Wall Street firm required to give me a severance package?
A: Except in very limited circumstances, the law does not require your employer to give you a severance package. In today's economic climate, the growing tendency is to offer employees a package before they are terminated. We have seen circumstances where severance packages are not devices to "soften the blow" but a strategic, preemptive move by human resources to have you waive your right to sue for wrongful termination, discrimination, or sexual harassment. It is for this reason that we recommend that
you call our experienced New York Severance Pay Attorneys for a confidential consultation today at (800) 893-9645. Do not sign a severance agreement without having an experienced attorney review it with you and, if appropriate, negotiate its terms.

Q: What Does A Typical Severance Package Look Like?
Each severance package will vary from company to company. Some
severance packages are one page in length while other can be over 15 pages. It all depends upon the savvy and acumen of your human resources department and in-house counsel. There are some things that will be universal in any standard severance package. You should be very careful about what you give up in exchange for receiving severance pay - most, if not all, will include a release of your claims but many will also include confidentiality, non-disparagement, cooperation, non-competition, non-solicitation and other post-employment obligations. Many of these obligations and the amount of severance pay can be negotiated by experienced Severance Agreement attorneys.

Q: If I receive a Severance Package, How Much Severance Pay Should I Receive?
A: Most severance packages will include some kind of compensation based
upon a formula derived by the company. For example, you may receive
one week of salary for every year that you worked for the company. However, each situation is different and, depending on if you have a claim or your individual circumstances, our Severance Package Lawyers may be to negotiate greater severance pay or more favorable terms.

Q: Can I Still Continue My Health Insurance Benefits?
A: Congress has enacted Federal laws and most states (including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut) have enacted laws that require an employer to offer you continued health insurance benefits at your expense. Most people refer to these laws as COBRA and Mini-COBRA statutes. Expenses for COBRA can be very expensive and a seasoned attorney may be able to negotiate its coverage as part of your severance package.

Q: Can I Receive Severance Pay and Still Collect Unemployment Insurance Benefits?

A: It depends on the terms of your severance pay. We recommend that you call our employment severance package lawyers to discuss this in further detail. Call today to schedule your consultation at (800) 893-9645.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for top.lawyers.arrive.mag.2011.jpgQ: Can Your Law Firm Help Me Make Sense Of this Document Filled With Legalese?
A: Yes. Your former employer has a team of lawyers fighting to ensure its interests are protected. You should too. Call our Severance Package attorneys at (800) 893-9645 to schedule your confidential consultation today and protect yourself.

July 30, 2010

New York Severance Pay Follow-Up: Does receiving severance pay disqualify me from being eligible for Unemployment Insurance Benefits in New York State?

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for above-the-bar-logo-no12.jpgWe previously wrote a blog about negotiating severance agreements and severance packages. This follow-up post specifically deals with the issue of unemployment insurance benefits and severance agreements.

In New York State, you are generally not disqualified from receiving unemployment insurance benefits if you are at the same time receiving separation related benefits such as severance pay or a severance package. However, if your severance package constitutes receipt of your full salary and exactly the same benefits that you received while you were working with the understanding that the salary and benefits will discontinue if you get a job elsewhere, then you are disqualified from receiving unemployment insurance benefits. Some employers do this to prevent you from double dipping and collecting both a severance package and unemployment insurance benefits, but most severance agreements do not have this provision. Your employer's payment to you of unused accrued vacation time will not affect your eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits.

It is important you carefully examine any limitations receiving severance pay may place on your right to unemployment benefits. Effectively negotiating your severance agreement could affect your future employment status as well as your financial health. Our attorneys can help you analyze your severance package including your non-compete clause, stock option payments, right to positive reference, as well as any releases or waivers. For example, if you think you might have an employment discrimination lawsuit, one of our New York Severance Contract Lawyers can help you figure out if you have a valid lawsuit before you sign a release or waiver to discrimination claims you might have against the company.

Our New York Severance Pay Attorneys can help you negotiate critical terms such as the duration and manner of your severance pay. Before you sign a severance agreement, contact one of our experienced Severance Agreement Attorneys at (800) 893-9645 to help you read the fine print to make sure you are not limiting your right to unemployment benefits or other important legal options. Meet our Lead Severance Pay Agreement Lawyer.

Continue reading "New York Severance Pay Follow-Up: Does receiving severance pay disqualify me from being eligible for Unemployment Insurance Benefits in New York State? " »

May 12, 2010

Negotiating Severance Packages, Severance Agreements & Severance Pay: Top 10 Things You Need to Know

above-the-bar-logo-no12.jpgAs a result of the recent economic recession, layoffs and downsizing, it is increasingly more important to negotiate a fair severance agreement. In 2001, only 5% of professionals and 4% of supportive staff negotiated their severance packages whereas in 2008, 31% of professionals and 22% of administrative workers did so. A strong severance agreement can help cushion the burdens of unemployment until you find your next job. Don't sign your severance agreement until you speak with one of our Severance Pay Agreement Attorneys. Meet Our Lead Severance Pay Attorney.

TOP TEN THINGS TO KNOW

Tip No. 1 -- The most important thing in any negotiation is to keep your emotions in check. Give yourself time to process what the company is offering you without being angry at the company for laying you off. By acting professional and courteous, you can be in much better to seek assistance of competent counsel and negotiate a much more lucrative agreement.

Tip No. 2
-- Be wary of immediately signing any waivers or releases to claims arising out of your employment with the company. Ask yourself are there are any claims you might have against the company for workplace discrimination based on age, gender, race, sexual orientation, or retaliation. For example, did the company lay off all the higher paid employees who are older employees? Is there a potential age discrimination lawsuit? Every situation is different and depends on the facts. There are special rules for severance agreements under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Older Workers Benefit and Protection Act (OWBPA). The release provision may be invalid if your employer did not follow the specific regulations. In the event you think you might have an employment discrimination lawsuit, do not sign the severance agreement without speaking to an attorney. With the help of a Workplace Attorney, you can figure out if you have a strong lawsuit, how much it is worth, and whether that claim is worth more than the severance package. If your claim is worth more than the severance package and you decide not to go forward, you can still use your claim as leverage to negotiate a better severance package.

Tip No. 3
-- Extended health insurance is an extremely important issue that could cost you thousands of dollars if you don't negotiate. If your former employer has more than 20 employees and offers your health insurance, except in limited circumstances, the company must offer you the opportunity to continue health insurance coverage at your expense for 18 months. Although you will have to pay for it, it may be still be cheaper than buying individual health insurance on your own and it may provide better coverage than you may find with an individual policy. As described in our prior blog post, you may also be eligible for a federal COBRA 65% subsidy of the health insurance coverage.

Continue reading "Negotiating Severance Packages, Severance Agreements & Severance Pay: Top 10 Things You Need to Know" »