The end of an employment relationship can be a tumultuous and stressful time for employees. In many situations, severance agreements can offer financial stability and peace of mind during this transitional period. Severance agreements are legal contracts provided by an employer at the end of an employment relationship that often includes a financial payment in exchange for certain agreements from the employee, such as a release of legal claims against the employer. While these agreements provide a valuable safety net, you must understand your rights and options before signing.

At Risman & Risman, P.C., we have extensive experience reviewing and negotiating severance agreements. We are equipped to guide you through every step of the process, ensuring that your severance agreement is fair, legally sound, and in your best interests.

In New Jersey, no state-specific laws mandate employers provide severance packages to their employees. Instead, severance agreements are typically offered due to individual employment contracts, company policy, or employer discretion. However, federal laws such as the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) and the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act may dictate specific requirements and protections related to severance agreements, especially for mass layoffs.

For example, the WARN Act requires employers with 100 or more employees to give at least 60 days before closing a plant or conducting a mass layoff, potentially offering severance pay in place of such notice.

Understanding Your Severance Agreement

A typical severance agreement may include elements such as:

Severance Pay: This is the payment provided to the employee upon the termination of employment. The amount can vary depending on your length of work, position, and company policy.

Benefits Continuation: Your severance agreement may allow for the continuation of certain employment benefits, like health insurance, for a specified period after termination.

Non-compete Clauses: These clauses restrict you from working with a competing business within a specific geographical area and timeframe.

Non-disclosure and Confidentiality Agreements: These stipulations prevent you from sharing sensitive company information.

Release of Claims: By signing this agreement, you waive your right to bring legal action against your employer for matters related to your employment and its termination.

Legal Counsel and Negotiation

While employers often present severance agreements as standard and non-negotiable, this is rarely true. Just as in any legal contract, the terms of a severance agreement are often subject to negotiation.

The attorneys at Risman & Risman, P.C. can review your severance agreement, help you understand its terms, and negotiate on your behalf. For example, suppose your employer includes a non-compete clause that is overly broad in its geographical range or timeframe. In that case, an attorney can work to narrow its scope or remove it entirely.

Litigation Considerations

Before signing a severance agreement, it’s crucial to consider the rights you may be waiving. The release of claims is a standard part of most severance agreements. By signing, you often give up the right to sue your employer for wrongful termination, discrimination, retaliation, and other employment-related issues.

However, certain rights cannot be waived in a severance agreement. For instance, you cannot waive your right to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or your right to report illegal activities under whistleblowing laws.

Your Trusted Guide in Severance Agreements

Facing the end of an employment relationship can be challenging. However, you can navigate this complex legal landscape with help. At Risman & Risman, P.C., we are committed to protecting your interests and ensuring you understand the full implications of your severance agreement.

Whether you need help understanding your severance agreement, want to negotiate its terms, or believe you have been wrongfully terminated, discriminated against, or faced retaliation at work, our firm is prepared to guide you through every step. While we cannot guarantee outcomes, we can promise our steadfast dedication to your case and commitment to advocate.

Remember, every employment situation is unique; this information should not replace legal counsel. We encourage you to reach out to us to discuss your specific circumstances and how we may be able to assist you.

Contact us online or at (212) 233-6400 to ensure your rights are fully protected and to begin exploring your options.

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