Severance Agreements

Oakland Severance Agreement Lawyers

Review Your CA Employee Compensation Agreement with an Attorney

A severance agreement (sometimes known as a separation agreement or termination agreement) refers to a contract between an employer and an employee detailing the compensation package an employee would receive in exchange for their termination or resignation. There are likely a group of benefits such as health insurance, RSU, retirement plans, etc. included within that agreement.

It is important to review a California severance agreement with a qualified Oakland employment lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected. Call (510) 650-0250 to speak with our employment law firm today.

Do You Have a Right to a Severance Package if You Are Terminated?

Most employees do not have a legal right to receive a severance package when their employment is terminated. Companies often offer severance packages regardless of whether they are required to do so because severance agreements can help reduce an employer’s legal liability. It is usually given in exchange for a written promise from the employee that they will not file a lawsuit against the employer.

Do I Have to Sign a Severance Agreement?

No, you are not obligated to sign a severance agreement. It is absolutely within your rights to decline. Importantly, your employer cannot retaliate or penalize you for choosing not to sign. However, it is crucial to remember that by not signing, you may be forfeiting certain benefits or monetary compensation outlined in the agreement. Therefore, it is highly recommended to consult with an experienced severance agreement lawyer to understand the implications thoroughly before making a decision.

When Not to Sign a Severance Agreement

There are several reasons why an employee might consider not signing a severance agreement. One of the most common is if they believe they have been unfairly dismissed or discriminated against, as signing the agreement often includes a clause waiving the right to sue the employer. Employees may also be concerned if the agreement includes non-compete or non-disclosure clauses that could limit their future employment opportunities or infringe upon their personal rights. In addition, the severance package offered may not adequately compensate for the loss of employment. For these reasons and more, it's essential to consult with a seasoned severance agreement lawyer who can help you understand and evaluate the terms before making a decision.

Further Reasons Not to Sign a Severance Agreement

  • Potential Inequity in Compensation: One might feel the compensation in the severance package is not commensurate with their contributions, tenure, or the circumstances surrounding their termination.
  • Insufficient Time for Review: Often, employers pressure employees to sign the agreement immediately, but it's important to take the time to understand all terms. If not given adequate time, it's a valid reason to hesitate.
  • Clarity and Ambiguity: If the agreement's terms are unclear or ambiguous, it's another reason to be wary of signing.
  • Future Employment Constraints: Some severance agreements impose restrictions on future employment, such as non-solicitation or non-compete clauses, which may limit one's ability to work in a similar industry or role.
  • Impact on Unemployment Benefits: Depending on the specifics of the agreement, signing might affect one's eligibility for unemployment benefits.
  • Release of Legal Claims: Severance agreements often involve surrendering your rights to potential legal claims, which you may not want to give up if you believe you have been wrongfully terminated or discriminated against.

Given the complexity and potential ramifications of these agreements, seeking the advice of a severance agreement lawyer is strongly advised for a comprehensive understanding of your rights and potential outcomes.

Since you may be giving up valuable rights by signing an executive or severance agreement, asking a severance agreement lawyer in Oakland to review the proposed agreement, and perhaps to negotiate changes, is always wise.

What Is Included in an Executive Employment Agreement?

In a California severance agreement, the terms executive compensation or executive employment agreement refer to the financial payments and non-financial benefits provided to the upper-level management within a business or organization, including:

  • presidents or vice-presidents;
  • chief executives;
  • financial executives;
  • operating executives;
  • legal executives;
  • and other C-Suite executives.

California severance agreements at the very least include the following:

  • COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) information
  • Confidentiality Agreement
  • Release of claims and covenant not to sue
  • Terms of severance pay
  • Terms of vacation pay
  • Unemployment information
  • If applicable, information regarding returning company property

What Is an Executive Compensation Package?

An executive compensation package is a group of benefits that may include health insurance, stock awards (often called Restricted Stock Unit "RSU"), severance protection, deferred compensation, and retirement plans. Executive agreements may also set out the obligations and expectations of the company and the individual in a way to minimize future disputes.

How Are California Severance Packages for Executives Paid?

The amount paid through a California severance package for executives is typically based on how long the executive was with the company. The longer the term of service, the larger the amount paid. California severance agreements typically use a formula of one week's pay per each year of service. Other agreements may even be for a month's pay per each year, or may even be comprised of lump-sum payments.

Executive agreements are complicated. If you want to truly understand the full extent of your package and maximize your effectiveness in negotiation, consult with an attorney at Benton Employment Law.

Proven Employment Legal Counsel in Oakland, CA

Having worked with top-level executives at some of the largest companies in California and the world, Benton Employment Law has a proven ability to appreciate the value of your job and to advocate for the executive or severance agreement you deserve.

Call our Oakland severance agreement attorneys at (510) 650-0250 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.

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