What Exactly Is In The Average New York Severance Agreement?
Contrary to what many people believe, there is no actual law requiring that a New York employer pay an employee severance upon their termination. However, there are situations where it may still be required, usually to do with employment contracts. If you are in a position where you are being offered severance by your former employer, it is important to be aware of your rights and your responsibilities. Sometimes employers may hide language in the agreement that puts you in a negative position.
When Is Severance Offered?
Perhaps the most common situation in which severance is offered is when a worker signed an employment contract at the start of their tenure. Very often, these agreements will expressly stipulate that severance will be paid in the event of termination; other times it may be implied or put behind benchmarks such as a certain length of time at the company or rising to a certain level of promotion. Other times, workers may be offered severance packages if there is a pattern of offering similarly situated workers the same thing.
If severance is not required, employers generally only offer it for one overarching reason – to obtain a release of claims. The main clause in most severance agreements is a release of claims – a certain amount of money, for a certain period of time, in exchange for dropping any potential claims over which you could file suit. For some workers, this is not an issue, but for anyone who is leaving their employ over issues like alleged discrimination or harassment, this may mean that you cannot sign a severance agreement at all.
In addition to a release of claims, which is contained in nearly every New York severance agreement, certain other provisions may appear depending on the nature of your (former) position at the company you are leaving, or your specific professional expertise. For example, restrictive covenants like non-compete agreements or confidentiality agreements are commonly inserted into severance packages – though if one or both of these are present in your proposed severance package, it is all the more important to not sign the document right away and to consult an attorney as to its fairness.
If you are over the age of 40, you should also be aware that you are protected from discrimination not only by New York employment law, but also by the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). An amendment to the ADEA, called the Older Workers’ Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA), states that if you are presented with a proposed release of claims, you have 21 days to decide whether or not you will sign it (45 days if you receive the release as part of a large group). You have the right to take as much of this time as you need to in making your decision.
Call A New York Severance Attorney
A severance package can mean a lifeline for an employee who is leaving a post they may have had for years – but the package must be fair and equitable, and you must be able to understand exactly what you are signing in order for the agreement to be valid. The New York City severance review & negotiations attorneys at Mansell Law, LLC can sit down with you and help you go through your proposed agreement, or help to answer your questions on the subject. Contact us today via our website or on the phone at 646-921-8900 for a free consultation.