Severance Agreements

Severance Agreements

Robert Maizel, Esquire can help you with your Severance Agreement.  Don’t sign until you consult with us. 

Why Do Employers Want Severance Agreements?

When your employment ends with a company, many companies will seek to have their soon to be former employee sign a document releasing the company from certain liabilities in exchange for something of value to the employee (usually money and/or health benefits).  Although, severance agreements can also include letters of recommendation and job retraining in some cases.  Employers want employees to sign Severance Agreements to release the company from liability.

Severance Agreements Must Provide Something of Value to the Employee. 

Like all contracts, a severance agreement is a contract and must be supported with something of value.  The consideration offered for the waiver of the right to sue cannot simply be a pension benefit or payment for earned vacation or sick leave to which the employee is already entitled but, rather, must be something of value in addition to any of the employee’s existing entitlements.

Are Severance Agreements Valid?

A waiver in a severance agreement generally is valid when an employee knowingly and voluntarily consents to the waiver.  Under Title VII, in addition to being knowingly and voluntarily signed, a valid agreement also must: (1) offer some sort of consideration, such as additional compensation, in exchange for the employee’s waiver of the right to sue; (2) not require the employee to waive future rights; and (3) comply with applicable state and federal laws.  Generally, a Severance Agreement is valid and therefore an attorney should review all agreements prior to being signed.  An employee must be given some amount of time to review the agreement and have it reviewed by an attorney. 

Courts look beyond the contract language and consider all relevant factors – or the totality of the circumstances — to determine whether the employee knowingly and voluntarily waived the right to sue.  Some factors that Courts look at are:

    • Whether the agreement was written in a manner that was clear and specific enough for the employee to understand based on his education and business experience;
    • Whether the agreement was induced by fraud, duress, undue influence, or other improper conduct by the employer;
    • Whether the employee had enough time to read and think about the advantages and disadvantages of the agreement before signing it, or the time to present the agreement to legal counsel;
    • Whether the employee consulted with an attorney or was encouraged or discouraged by the employer from doing so;
    • Whether the employee had any input in negotiating the terms of the agreement; and
    • Whether the employer offered the employee consideration (e.g., severance pay, additional benefits) that exceeded what the employee already was entitled to by law or contract and the employee accepted the offered consideration.

Severance Agreements and the EEOC

Even if a severance agreement contains broad language to describe the claims that you are releasing. or releases claims under the EEOC, you can still file a charge with the EEOC if you believe you were discriminated against during employment or wrongfully terminated.  In addition, no agreement between you and your employer can limit your right to testify, assist, or participate in an investigation, hearing, or proceeding conducted by the EEOC under the ADEA, Title VII, and the ADA.   Any provision in a waiver that attempts to waive these rights is invalid and unenforceable.  If your employer is seeking to settle claims that would be valid under EEO Law, those claims must be settled separately. 

How Can Robert Maizel Help You?

I am an experience employment lawyer who handles these matters regularly.  Our team investigates your claim to secure all of the information to help obtain a positive resolution to your case.  We know the law and we understand your needs.  No matter what your question, please feel free to call us at 215-695-3000 to discuss your case.  All consultations are free of charge.

Robert Maizel, Esquire

Robert Maizel is an Experienced Trial Attorney in Philadelphia with over fifteen years of trial experience.

You will speak to an attorney about your case!

Saffern & Weinberg has offices located in both Center City Philadelphia and Jenkintown, Pennsylvania.  Attorney Robert Maizel is a Partner with the Law Offices of Saffren & Weinberg.

Robert Maizel is associated with, and is Special Counsel with the Law Firm of Saffren & Weinberg. Robert Maizel is not a Law Firm, and rather Robert Maizel is affiliated with the Law Firm of Saffren & Weinberg.  All clients shall formulate an agreement with the Law Firm of Saffren & Weinberg, with the option of hiring Robert Maizel as lead counsel on your case to be heard in the State Courts of Pennsylvania, and Marc Weinberg as the lead counsel in cases to be heard in the Federal Courts of Pennsylvania.  Mr. Maizel handles all actions in the Administrative Courts of Pennsylvania including the EEOC and PaHRC.

Call Robert Maizel at 215-695-3000 to schedule your free consultation.

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