Employers in San Diego and across California offer severance packages for many reasons. Three of the most common reasons are:
- They want to downsize their operations
- They wish to replace higher-paid employees with younger employees who they can pay less
- They want employees to give up important employee rights in return for a small payout
The best thing employees can do before they accept any severance package is to consult with an experienced severance pay lawyer. This is true for managers and supervisors as well as they every-day laborer. It’s true for both private employees and public employees
The release from liability form
Employers usually require that any employee who accepts a severance package also agree to release the employer from any liability. In short, the employer wants the employee to agree that once the employee is paid, the employee can’t file any claim against the employer. Employees need to review with a lawyer what claims they may have. In some cases, the worker may be entitled to overtime pay or vacation pay. If there is an employment contract, the worker may be entitled to stock options and a buyout share. Employees who have worked with the company for a few years or more are usually entitled to some form of retirement benefits.
In addition to contractual claims, employees may have claims based on employer misconduct. These claims (for money, punitive damages, and statutory damages) include:
- Discrimination cases. Many employers, especially larger employers, cannot discriminate against an employee based on their race, gender, religion, disability, age, national origin, or other factors such as pregnancy. Employers can’t threaten to fire someone if they don’t sign the release form if the firing is discriminatory.
- Wrongful termination. Employers generally can’t retaliate against an employee who files a whistleblower claim or files a workers’ compensation claim. This prohibition applies to workers who testify on behalf of other workers too.
- Creation of a hostile environment. Employers can’t make work so uncomfortable for an employee that feels pressure to quit. Lewd comments, verbal abuse, continual lousy work assignments, and other actions may create a hostile work environment.
- Sexual abuse or harassment. Employers and their staff can’t pressure workers to provide sexual favors in return for a promotion. They can’t take advantage of a worker due to the sex by touching them, verbally abusing them, or mistreating them due to their sex.
Workers also have other rights such as the right to request leave under the Federal Medical Leave Act.
How a San Diego severance pay lawyer helps negotiate your financial interests when an employer offers a severance pay package
A skilled San Diego employee rights lawyer will also review and bargain for the following financial benefits:
- Any rights under a written employment contract
- More severance pay
- The right, if possible, to claim unemployment compensation and severance pay
- COBRA insurance – the right to continue your company health insurance – usually for a year and a half – provided you pay the premiums. Work insurance premiums are usually lower than getting insurance on your own
- Tax considerations such as adjusting the payment for a year when you’re in a lower tax bracket or trading of the severance pay for a non-taxable benefit
Additionally, a skilled San Diego lawyer will work to protect any severance pay or retirement benefits if the company goes out of business
Contact our San Diego employee rights lawyers for a thorough review or your severance pay package
We have been fighting for employees throughout California for more than 40 years. Our lawyers have the experience and resources to negotiate with employers and to file your claims in state and federal courts (and agencies). For a full review of your employee rights and severance package, call Stephen Danz & Associates at (877)789-9707 to make an appointment with caring and skilled lawyers. Se Habla Espanol.