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Your Employer Has Offered You a Severance Agreement. Now What?

When you receive a severance agreement from your employer, you may notice that the agreement encourages you to talk to a lawyer before you sign. Your employer did not put that language in randomly. Congress passed a law requiring employers to put that language in if an employee who is being let go is at least 40 years old. Congress was concerned that older workers who were getting laid off might have a valid claim for age discrimination that they were waiving for too low a price.

When you come in to discuss your severance agreement with me or with another one of the lawyers at Nacht Law, we will spend some time reviewing the circumstances of your employment and your termination. I will be trying to determine if you have a potential legal claim to assert. You may say to yourself, "But I don't want to sue my former employer. I don't need to see a lawyer. I just want to get the money and move on."

Fine. But, what if we can negotiate to get you more money? What if the terms buried in the document limit your ability to get a job in your line of work? What if your company intends to make it difficult for you to keep your good reputation? In short, there are many issues that emerge when we discuss a severance agreement.

First and foremost, I am concerned about your career and your ability to continue to earn a living in the field of your choosing. I am interested in helping you obtain a more favorable financial result as well, if that is appropriate. Each year, I personally see about a hundred severance agreements a year, and the six other attorneys at Nacht Law review many more. Don't let a pivotal moment in your career pass without expert advice. And don't worry: we would never encourage you to file a lawsuit or to pursue a claim unless it was both valid under the law and in the best interest of your career.

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