It could happen at any time. You are sitting around minding your own business, plugging away at your job, when the boss calls you into her office with a representative from human resources. They tell you that you’re no longer employed. Perhaps they don’t say anything other than the dreaded, “We are going in a new direction.” Perhaps they tell you that you are being fired because of a recent incident or something that happened in the past. Perhaps they tell you that you are part of a layoff or downsizing.
At any rate, you are suddenly, without warning, unemployed. Your first reaction is likely shock. Then, you feel the anxiety of paying bills and trying to find another job. It's often at that moment that your employer hands you an agreement, promising a few weeks of pay, but only if you sign. But, should you sign it? Do you have rights?
What rights do you have in the workplace?
Your employer offered you a small severance package due to its decision to terminate your employment. They are just doing that out of compassion for you, right? Wrong. If you read your agreement (and you should always read anything you sign!), you’ll notice they only agree to provide you severance pay if you waive your rights to filing a lawsuit against them. Ever. Is that fair? It depends on the circumstances, but often it's quite unfair.
Just because the company is downsizing does not mean you termination was legal.
Don’t be dissuaded from pursuing your claims just because your boss told you that your job was part of a layoff. I’ve represented dozens of employees who were subject to company wide “layoffs.” Just because the company is downsizing does not mean you termination was legal.
Your boss can’t fire you because of your age, race, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or marital status. Don’t let your boss get away with retaliation! If your boss bullied you for complaints you made about illegal activity, about discrimination or harassment, health and safety violations in the workplace, or for taking medical or military leave, your termination may be wrongful.
If your boss bullied you for complaints you made about illegal activity, your termination may be wrongful.
If you don’t know whether you were fired for an illegal reason or not, contact us, before you sign your agreement. We can discuss your case and analyze your situation. If you sign the agreement, then you have likely waived your rights to pursue claims for wrongful termination against your employer, so it is vital you contact us before signing the agreement.
You can fight for justice when your employer withholds your paycheck until you sign your severance agreement
Some unscrupulous bosses have refused to provide employees their final paycheck until they sign a severance agreement. They may even tie the receipt of your final paycheck to signing the agreement. This is wrong and illegal.
You have a right to receive your paycheck on the final day of employment, whether or not you sign the agreement.
You have a right to receive your paycheck on the final day of employment, whether or not you sign the agreement. If your boss withheld your pay, not only are you entitled to penalties for every day that your boss was late providing you with that paycheck, but your severance agreement is void. If your boss forced you to sign an agreement by illegally withholding your pay, call us! We can help!
You have additional rights to fight unfair or illegal terms in a severance agreement.
There are also some other pitfalls in severance agreements that may affect your rights. For instance, has your employer forced you to sign a confidentiality or trade secret agreement? What about an agreement not to work for a competitor once you leave the employer? Those agreements are illegal! It is wrong to stop you from competing in the workplace should your relationship with your employer be severed.
Your employer also may try to have you sign an arbitration agreement. Arbitration agreements can have a significant impact on your rights should your employer treat you illegally.
There’s a lot to consider when signing a severance agreement. You may feel overwhelmed and nervous about fighting with your former employer. Don’t worry! We can help!
We can help you fight for justice.
I’ve drafted, reviewed, and advised employees on dozens of severance agreements. Call us. We can help explain to your rights and responsibilities of your agreement. You can even hire us to negotiate a better severance agreement for you. That way, you can make sure that you have a fair agreement.We want to do everything to make things easier for you. We’re here for you!
Please make an appointment for a free consultation in our Newport Beach office. You can contact us by email or phone. We want to help.