The results are rarely pleasant when the HR manager calls you in their cabin. Often these meetings can lead to termination of the employment.
Since New York is an at-will state, the law gives your employer the right to fire you at any time and for any given reason (as long as they are not violating state and federal law).
Most New York employers offer their employees a severance package and ask them to sign the agreement. This package will come into action if your employer terminates you, and as per this contract, all the terms mentioned in it will become effective.
It’s essential to hire a professional York employment law attorney who can review the severance package on your behalf to ensure that the contract doesn’t contain anything that can be disadvantageous to you in the future.
Do you want to sue your employer with a severance case because they did not provide you with the employment benefits you deserve or, as mentioned in the agreement? Or is there an unexplained termination, and you are forced to sign a severance? Contact Levine and Blit, and we’ll help file a case against your employer.
In this article, you’ll learn what a severance agreement is and the role of an attorney in a severance case. Moreover, we’ll tell you how long a severance case can last and the factors that impact the case.
What is a Severance Agreement?
A severance agreement or package is a contract between you and the employer. As per the agreement, the employer can terminate your employment in return for a lump sum payment and other unemployment benefits.
The law of New York does not obligate employers to offer a severance package to the employers. Thus, it does not automatically come into action when your employer fires you or ends your employment.
However, in order to prevent any legal actions, most employers tend to sign severance agreements with their employees. This agreement may be pre-negotiated when you take the job.
There is no standard formula to calculate the severance pay, and it is usually done by the employer. You can accept, deny, or negotiate these terms with the help of an employment attorney in New York.
After you sign the agreement, there’s not much you can do, so it is highly advised to get it reviewed by your lawyer.
What’s Typically Included in a Severance Package?
Even if it’s not necessary most employers in New York offer severance to curtail the chances of facing any legal actions. It’s important for every employee to know what a severance package includes.
Here are some items your severance package may include, but the agreement is not limited to these items:
Cash Payments or Severance Payments
Unemployment Insurance law defines “severance pay” or dismissal pay as payments made over a specific period of time by the employer to the employee. Typically, employers decide the amount based on the employee’s role and the duration of time they have served the company.
It can be as much as a year’s salary or as little as a small percentage of a single paycheck. Employees may also receive compensation for unused vacation time.
The package outlines the details of the offer, including the date, insurance coverage, wages, and more. It may also include the obligation you must fulfill as a part of the agreement.
General Release of Claims
As per this term, the employee agrees to waive off their right to sue the employer for any types of legal claims. An employee cannot sue their employer for anything after signing the severance agreement.
Health Insurance (COBRA)
As a part of COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985), it is mandatory for employers to allow their workers to keep their health insurance for as long as 18 months after their termination, at the worker’s expense.
During the 18-month period, the premium payments for health insurance remain at the company rate. However, some employers even pay for the health insurance of laid-off employees for a period of time.
Some employment contracts may include stock options, and they will also reflect on the severance agreement. However, some employers may decide not to offer stock options to terminated employees.
Some other inclusions of the severance agreement may be:
- Non-compete agreement
- Non-disparagement agreement
- Non-disclosure and confidentiality agreement
These terms present in the severance agreement are usually in favor of the employer. And this is the reason why some employees decide to file a severance case against their employers.
What Happens After You Contact an Attorney about Your Severance Agreement or Disagreement?
There are two situations after an employee is handed over the severance agreement. Either the employee agrees to it, or they disagree. If the employee agrees or disagrees with the agreement, they can contact a New York employment lawyer to review the contract.
Here are some reasons why you should get the severance agreement reviewed by the lawyer, even if you find the terms mentioned in it to be satisfactory.
Generally, employers offer less money to the employees because they know that most employees negotiate up the severance amount. If you think that the money offered to you is low, you can negotiate it with the employer.
Since the New York law does not obligate employers to offer a severance package, there is no such rule of thumb for calculating the amount. A lawyer will help you negotiate with the employer, and you can get the severance amount increased.
Remove Disadvantageous Clauses
As discussed, severance packages are usually for the benefit of the employer. As with these agreements, they can prevent any legal issues aftermath terminating an employee. By getting your severance package reviewed by a lawyer, you can ensure that there are no such clauses that can waive your legal rights.
Getting terminated from a job can bring a lot of stress, as you might have to manage things without a steady income for some time. With the help of an attorney, you can get employee benefits listed in the agreement. These benefits can be anything that your employer used to offer during the tenure of your employment.
In most cases, the severance agreement requires the employees to waive and release all employment-related claims they might have against the employer. This means that an employee who agrees to the severance agrees not to sue the employer for anything that happens after the date of signing the contract.
A lawyer will help you understand the terms mentioned in the severance package and may also help you negotiate with the employer on the basis of these terms.
Restrictive Covenants and Agreements Not to Solicit
The severance agreement may contain non-solicit and non-compete restrictions that prevent you from working with the competitors of your employers or other certain jobs as described in the contract.
Usually, these restrictions are very confusing, but they significantly impact your future employability. The employment attorney in New York will help you understand these provisions, and you can decide whether to agree or disagree with the severance agreement.
Can You File a Severance Case Against Your Former Employer?
Yes, there are several instances when you can file a lawsuit against the employer. Signing a severance agreement doesn’t mean that you have lost all your legal rights.
For example, if the employer has coerced you into signing the agreement by levying threats against you, the New York law will consider this agreement invalid while restoring your rights to bring an employment lawsuit for discrimination or other valid reasons.
Are you wondering whether you can file a workplace discrimination lawsuit against your employer? Contact Levine and Blit for a free case evaluation, and we will assist you with all the legal help you need.
How Long Does a Severance Cast Last in New York?
As per New York law, a worker of age 40 or older gets up to a 21-day window within which they need to review a severance offer. In the event of a mass layoff, a 45-day window is provided for the employees to decide whether to accept or refuse the severance package.
This window affects the duration of the case. It is advised to get in touch with a professional employment attorney as soon as you suspect your employer has violated the state and federal employment laws, such as not providing regular wages before termination or more.
The duration of the severance case depends on several factors, such as whether you have a valid case against the employer.
At Levine and Blit, we employ highly-experienced employment lawyers on every severance case to ensure that the verdict does not take too long.
What Factors Impact a Severance Case?
It is essential for every employee to understand the factors that may affect the case and its duration. Below we have explained some common factors that affect severance cases in New York.
Whether You Have a Valid Legal Claim Against the Employer
The first and most important factor in a severance case is a valid claim against the employer. If your employer has discriminated against you at the workplace, which led to termination, it could be a reason for bringing a severance case.
The Duration of the Employment
With time, an employee develops the skills required for their place of employment. Moreover, their resume becomes outdated, and the interview practices can also get rusty. Such employees often neglect networking tools. Thus, they are left with fewer options after the termination.
The New York courts have recognized that an employee’s tenure is an essential factor in deciding the severance case.
For example, an employee who has served the company for ten years deserves more benefits as compared to an employee who has worked for 1-2 years.
The Job Designation
Another deciding factor is the job designation of the employee. For example, a senior manager of a company deserves better wages and other employment benefits compared to a junior analyst.
Also, your role with the company will affect your future employability, which makes it an important factor in a severance case.
The Company Policies that Affect the Inclusions of a Severance Package
While the law does not require an employer to offer severance packages to terminated employees, it is still important for the employer to follow the company policies, if there are any. If you think that your severance agreement does not comply with the company policies, it can affect the severance case.
Disputes Regarding Non-compete Agreements
Sometimes, the employees don’t know about the mention of a non-compete agreement in the severance package. It prohibits the employee from entering into competition with the employer after their employment period of over.
The agreement may also prohibit the employee from revealing confidential and proprietary information to any other companies during or after employment.
Tax issues may take place after the termination of an employee. And these issues can impact the severance case. Irrespective of the amount of the taxes, an employee can use them as a valid reason for filing a case if they suspect any irregularity in taxes from the employer’s end.
Contact Levine and Blit and End All Your Severance Case-related Woes
Termination of employment can bring a lot of stress, and standing up a severance case against your employer is not easy since these agreements give them an upper hand.
Employment attorneys at Levine and Blit can help you review the severance agreement to prevent you from falling prey to any tactics from employers. Our attorneys use their extensive knowledge of the state and federal laws to negotiate with your employer to procure the maximum supplemental unemployment benefits for you.
We can also help you file a severance case if you have been discriminated against or harassed at the workplace. With an aim to protect your rights and interests, Levine and Blit use the best legal practices and skills to help you get justice.
Call us at 212-967-3000 for a free case evaluation and to get your severance agreement reviewed before you sign it.