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How to Protect Yourself in California Severance Pay Agreements

Posted on May 30, 2023 in Personal injury

Upon losing your job in California, you could be presented with a severance pay agreement. Sometimes, these can be confusing, and the terms are not always clear. Your former employer may want to push terms that are not agreeable, so it is critical that you have a California employment lawyer on your side.

Employers may want to enter into a legally binding contract with their former employees in an effort to protect themselves from wrongful termination suits in the future. Having your attorney take a look at the agreement before signing can protect you in the long run.

Having an Attorney Review Your Severance Agreement

It is a good idea to have your attorney look over your severance agreement. Some of the language and the fact that it is usually written because of a conflict means that you will want your lawyer to ensure the terms are fair. An employment lawyer in California should absolutely be contacted if your job was terminated because of the following:

  • Discrimination
  • Sexual harassment
  • Restrictions of the rights of the employee, such as health insurance, vacation days that were not used, or stock option benefits

Your employer may pressure you into signing the severance agreement within a designated time frame. Often, that time frame is immediate. You are not obligated to sign the agreement without having time to consider it and have legal counsel look at it for you in an effort to determine your options.

Waiving Common Rights

When a crime has been committed, you cannot waive your rights. But, in the case of civil violations, some can be waived in a severance agreement. Listed below are some of the more commonly waited rights:

  • The right to file suit due to wrongful termination, defamation, or workplace harassment.
  • Your right to sue because of discrimination based upon the employee’s gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, age, or sex.
  • The ability to talk about the severance agreement terms with third parties, which is referred to as a confidentiality agreement.
  • Your right to discuss trade secrets may be waived.
  • Your right to say anything about your employer that could be construed negatively could be waived. This is referred to as a non-disparagement provision.
  • You may waive your right to discuss the circumstances leading up to the firing.
  • You may forfeit your ability to file suit for claims that are known or claims that are not known.

Severance Agreement Limitations

Even if an employer may want certain provisions, some employee provisions are not enforceable. Listed below are a few of these:

  • Employees can not be coerced to waive their right to pursue violations of wages and laws concerning the hours they are allowed to work. These claims can be to pay for wages that were earned, unemployment insurance, overtime payments, or minimum wage.
  • Employers are not permitted to require any employee to sign a severance agreement before they pay the wages that are owed. If wages are owed, employers have to pay these wages whether the employee decides to enter into a severance agreement or not.
  • An employee cannot be asked to waive their right to report crimes.
  • An employee is not required to agree to break the law.
  • Unlawful non-compete clauses are not protected agreements.
  • If a waiver is not specific enough or covers too many areas that it would make finding employment too challenging, it is also unenforceable.
  • There are times when a company will ask employees who are 40 years old and up to sign a waiver prohibiting them from claiming they were discriminated against due to their age. For this to be lawful, the company must give the employee at least 45 days to determine whether or not they will sign the age discrimination waiver and seven days to change their mind and revoke it.

What Lawyers Can Do to Help with Negotiations Concerning Severance Agreements

If your employer has unfairly terminated you or if you have filed a claim against the company, or are negotiating a fair severance package, legal advice can help you exponentially. Having a San Diego employment law attorney beside you to advocate for your employee rights is of great value.

Negotiating a severance agreement can be stressful and take a toll on you. Hiring an attorney will usually result in a more generous settlement but will also take the pressure off of you as you proceed with these trying exchanges. Your privacy will be protected, and you can step away from the headache associated with the negotiations and let your employment attorney handle them.

Calculating Severance Pay

Severance pay is typically based on the terms of employment and the wages you were paid there. Severance pay is often calculated by multiplying how much you were paid weekly by how many years you worked for the company.

An example would be if you earned $2,000 a week and worked there for eight years. This formula would award you with a $16,000 severance agreement.

Contact our California Employment Lawyers Today

At Walker Law, we have the skilled lawyers you want beside you, working hard to ensure that our client’s rights are protected and that they are treated fairly when compensation is owed. Reach out today to have us review the separation agreement, look for legal issues with your employment matters, and ensure that your rights as an employee in the state of California are protected.

Our employment attorneys understand and have experience practicing law that concerns the federal and local aspects. The following are some of the areas in which we have experience:

We can help you handle the legal complexities of a severance agreement in California. Call us today for help navigating the challenges associated with ending a working relationship in a way that you can possibly start fresh. The team at Walker Law is ready to champion your cause. Reach out today.

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