Should I Sign This Separation Agreement?

Fairchild & Levine LLP Team

When faced with a separation agreement after being terminated from your job, it’s natural to have questions and concerns. A severance package might seem like a lifeline during a tumultuous time, but it’s crucial to understand what you’re agreeing to before you sign on the dotted line. This post will guide you through what a severance package generally entails, the considerations you should weigh when deciding whether to sign, and why it’s often beneficial to seek professional legal advice.

What Does a Severance Package Typically Include?

A severance package is designed to provide financial support and other benefits to employees who are being let go. While the specifics can vary, a typical severance package might include:

  • Severance Pay: A lump sum or continued salary payments for a specified period.
  • Health Benefits: Continuation of health insurance coverage for a certain duration.
  • Retirement Benefits: Information about the handling of your 401(k) or pension plan.
  • Outplacement Services: Assistance with finding a new job, such as resume writing or job search coaching.
  • Confidentiality Clauses: Agreements that may limit your ability to disclose company information.

Key Considerations Before Signing

  1. How Badly Do You Need the Money? If you are in immediate financial need, the severance pay might seem too good to pass up. However, it’s essential to weigh this against other factors, as accepting the package might limit your options for pursuing further legal action against your employer.
  2. Circumstances of Your Termination. Consider the reasons and context behind your termination. Were you wrongfully terminated or laid off without proper notice? If you believe your termination was illegal, you might have grounds for a lawsuit, and signing the agreement could waive your rights to pursue legal action.
  3. Amount Being Offered. Evaluate the severance amount in comparison to your tenure and the industry standards. Is it fair compensation for your time with the company and the circumstances of your departure?

Time To Review

Employees are generally given a period of time to review the separation agreement before deciding whether to sign it. Under the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA), employees over 40 years old must be given at least 21 days to consider the agreement and seven days to revoke their signature after signing. This period allows you to thoroughly review the terms and seek legal counsel if necessary.

Get Professional Advice

Separation agreements can be complex, and signing one without fully understanding the implications can have long-lasting effects on your career and legal rights. If you’ve been presented with a separation agreement, it’s in your best interest to consult with a legal professional who can review the paperwork and provide you with informed advice.

Contact Us Today

At Fairchild & Levine, we regularly represent employees in wrongful termination cases. If you’ve received a separation agreement and are unsure whether to sign it, reach out to us. We can help you understand your rights and options, helping you make the best decision for your future. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and get the expert advice you need.

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