“Do I put my original severance at risk if I negotiate?”
This is the question we are asked more than any other. The short answer is that it is technically possible but highly unlikely that your offer will be pulled.
It is technically possible for your employer to withdraw the original severance offer because when you negotiate your severance, what you are really doing is rejecting your employer’s original offer of severance and making a counter-offer.
However, as a practical matter your employer is not offering you severance to be nice. Rather, your employer is offering severance because they want you to end your employment with a promise to not disparage, sue or otherwise create problems for your former employer. If your former employer withdraws the original offer simply because you've tried to negotiate, then they have basically created a risk that you will disparage, sue or otherwise create problems. It would not make sense for an employer to respond to a request to negotiate with, not only a refusal to negotiate, but also a withdrawal of the severance that they just offered.
Our firm has negotiated hundreds of severance agreements and recouped millions of dollars for our clients. In all of our negotiations, employers have threatened to pull severance offers only twice, and neither of those employers carried out their threat (we think these may have been empty threats to begin with).
Whether you hire an attorney or not, you should absolutely negotiate your severance. Obviously, we believe that the best way to negotiate a severance is by using experienced and highly skilled severance specialists. Call or e-mail us for a consultation. You will be speaking to an attorney within 24 hours.