Our 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:
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.
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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.