How to negotiate severance agreements

A lot of employees call us asking how to negotiate severance agreement to get more money.  These days, employers are becoming less willing to offer acceptable severance packages. Successful severance negotiation requires careful preparation, organization and ... guts.  Often, it is also very helpful to get an experienced employment lawyer to help you negotiate for a better severance.  We outline a few tips for to help negotiate severance agreements below:

  1. Don't sign right away.  First of all, you should never sign anything until you read and understand the whole thing.  Your company is not just giving you money because it is nice.  You are receiving a severance because (a) your employer is contractually required to do so, (b) your employer is paying you not to sue or (c) both.
  2. Think back.  First, think about whether you have a contract or any other promise from the employer for severance. Check your offer letter, contract, etc.  If you are promised severance, make sure you get what you are promised.
  3. Consider potential causes of action. While there is no such thing as "unlawful termination," in and of itself, it is possible that your employment was terminated for illegal reasons (e.g. age, gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, etc.).  If you believe that the decision to terminate your employment was influenced by any of these factors, you may have a viable cause of action against your employer.  If you can sue your employer, you have leverage.  If you have leverage, you may be able to get a better severance.
  4. Do your research.  Only negotiate after you have educated yourself about your agreement, you employment status and your potential causes of action.  Only an educated negotiator is an effective one.  Plan ahead, outline your arguments, figure out your leverage.
  5. Be bold.  You are already leaving your job, so you might as well go for the gusto.  Look at a picture of your child or loved one, build up your courage and fight for yourself.  Fortune favors the bold - the same holds true for severance.
  6. Hire an employment lawyer.  This firm handles severance all the time.  We review and explain severance agreements for a flat fee and negotiate severance agreements for a percentage of the improvement.

Please contact us if you feel you have been presented with a severance agreement and need assistance.