Severance Agreements in Jacksonville
Jacksonville Employment Attorney Explains Severance Agreements
An individual's separation from employment can be a time filled with confusion and stress. Career transitions need to be thought out and planned, but that provision is not always allotted to the employee. Employees who are presented with a severance agreement or separation package should obtain legal advice to understand their rights and obligations prior to accepting such an agreement.
An employee should remember that:
A severance agreement presented by an employer is drafted to protect the employer's interests, not the employee's concerns.
While many such agreements are fair in their language and provisions, some have traps and statements that can cause future harm even if there was no ill-intent by the employer.
Many employers will inform employees that they should discuss a severance agreement with a lawyer prior to signing. Severance agreements usually contain provisions releasing any and all claims the employee may have had up to the time of executing the agreement. Some employees may have legitimate claims that can lead to lawsuits and significant damages against their employers. Once the severance agreement is signed, however, any such claim may be forever lost. Speak with the Jacksonville employment attorney at The Law Office of Shands M. Wulbern, P.A. for legal guidance.
Understand Your Rights Before Signing a Severance Agreement
When presented with a severance agreement, most people are already in a vulnerable state. Often people did not see the termination coming, or even if they did, had many years of service invested with the company. Most are concerned about the future, where they will be able to find their next job, and how they will support their families. Consequently, people often sign severance agreements not really knowing what rights they are giving up and what hidden dangers lie within these agreements.
For example, most people are unaware that Florida Reemployment Assistance laws now consider severance pay as a form of back pay and are deducting it from reemployment assistance benefits. So a nominal severance package will not necessarily provide much extra compensation unless the employee is facing an extended period of unemployment. Even then, with Congress' recent refusal to extend unemployment benefits, a small severance package will usually not provide much support during a long break from employment.
Common Issues With Severance Agreements
The primary issue of concern in a proposed severance agreement is the amount of severance pay that is offered to the terminated employee by the employer. Unresolved benefit issues may also need to be discussed before signing – this may pertain to retirement plans, stock plans, stock options, bonuses, incentive compensation amounts, and health insurance.
Non-monetary issues such involving governing future communications between the parties and third parties should also be considered and potentially addressed in the agreement.
Severance Agreements Protect Employers, Not Employees!
People offered a severance package think that their employer is simply being nice, or wanting to show their appreciation for the employee's years of service. Nothing could be further from the truth. More often than not, the employer considers these agreements and the release of claims contained within them to have significant value and allow them to nip a potential lawsuit in the bud before the employee has a chance to talk to an attorney, or fully consider potential illegalities regarding their termination.
Anyone who is offered a severance agreement, regardless of the terms, should carefully consider and weigh all their options before signing their rights away. Often there are terms that can be negotiated, and in some instances a serious law violation exists that may never require the employer to be brought to justice for its wrongdoing if the agreement is signed.
Talk to A Skilled Severance Agreement Attorney in Jacksonville
Employees should be cautious when entering into severance agreements and not simply assume that such an agreement is a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. Some severance agreements are specifically offered due to concerns of potential liability and exposure for valid legal claims. This could be an opportunity to negotiate a settlement that is reflective of the true harm being suffered.
If you were offered a severance package, contact The Law Office of Shands M. Wulbern, P.A. to determine whether acceptance of such an agreement is the right decision for you.
If you have been offered a severance agreement or believe you should be entitled to a severance package, contact Attorney Shands M. Wulbern at (904) 638-9943 for a detailed analysis and opinion of your legal rights.