Is A Severance Agreement Just Free Money?
I’ve met with quite a few clients who have come to my office in Miami with severance agreements over the past few months. I should point out that Florida has no law that requires your employer to pay you a severance payment because you are being fired or laid off. While there certainly are times when a company will offer to pay a severance because of your years of hard work and devoted service, more often than not the company has an ulterior motive.
You have been working for your employer for some time. Most employers are in the business of making money, and paying a severance is the opposite of making money – it’s spending money. So, what I have seen over and over is that employees should be very wary when they are offered a severance agreement.
Besides the not-so-obvious reason that there are often harmful clauses buried in severance agreements – such as an agreement to not engage in any work that would compete with your former employer or an agreement to have to cooperate with your old employer – there is another reason not to sign that severance agreement. You already know the other reason, which is that you are getting a severance agreement because your (now former) employer thinks or knows that it did something wrong.
Maybe your employer did not want to accommodate your medical restrictions, or it could be that your employer does not like that you have been out of work on FMLA leave and are now coming back to work. While there is a never ending list of possibilities, the bottom line is that if you sign that severance agreement, you are probably not going to be able to make a claim against your former employer.
So, if you consider that you have never known your employer to give away money, then you should probably consult with an attorney about your rights. At the FairLaw Firm, I’ve reviewed many severance agreements and have discovered many situations in which my clients had their rights violated, which led to them getting more money in their severance packages. If you are offered a severance package, then I would urge you to contact me at the FairLaw Firm to make sure that your employer is treating you fairly.