Should I sign the severance agreement?

Many of my clients are offered severance or separation agreements from their employers before they contact me.  These are important documents that can have long-term consequences.  In most cases, it is advisable to meet with an attorney prior to signing a severance agreement to discuss the implications of that document.

Employers offer severance agreements to employees for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes it is part of a layoff package or the buyout of a contract, but many times it is for the sole purpose of having that employee waive potential claims against the employer in an exchange for a small one time payment.  These agreements are usually very one sided in favor of the employer, as they are well aware that an individual who is being terminated or laid off is in desperate need of income until they find another job.

There are many questions to consider before signing an agreement.

  • What potential claims do I have against my employer that I will be waiving as a result of signing the agreement?
  • Am I subject to a non-compete agreement by signing the severance agreement?
  • Who will pay for my COBRA health insurance during the period I am looking for other employment?
  • Does the severance agreement effect my pension, 401k or retirement plan?
  • Will my employer agree to a neutral reference or a non-disparagement provision that protects my reputation?

If you are in the State of Alabama and have been offered a severance agreement or separation agreement by your employer, please contact Will Beckum at (205) 588-0699 or by email at wbeckum@beckumlaw.com.

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