Georgia is considered an at-will employment state. This means that your employer doesn’t need a reason to fire you as long as the termination isn’t based on an illegal reason. An unlawful basis would be based on age, race, national origin or religion. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission protects employees from getting fired for such characteristics. Georgia nor Atlanta employers need a reason to terminate your employment, so they aren’t required to offer you a severance package.
What is a Severance Package?
A severance package is an agreement between you and your employer for you to receive money because your employment was terminated. In return for compensation, you are required to sign a separation agreement. A separation agreement releases your employer from any binding legal claims such as a lawsuit and wrongful termination.
Factors Affecting Your Compensation
The specific money amount you’ll receive as part of your severance package depends on some factors:
- Circumstances involving your termination such as a layoff or firing
- The amount of time needed to find new employment without suffering economic hardship
- The job position or title in the company
- How long you spent working at the company
As a terminated employee, you’re allowed to negotiate a severance agreement to end your employment contract. It’s essential to have an employment law firm to represent you. Having legal counsel will make sure the negotiations follow federal law and the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The Type of Compensation Awarded in a Severance Package
There’s a good chance your employer’s initial severance pay offer will be quite low. Most employers low-ball their first severance pay off in hopes employees accept it. Thus, never accept the first offer without speaking to an Atlanta employment. Also, if you were the victim of retaliation, workplace discrimination or a hostile work environment, you may be entitled to more money than your employer initially offers.
The most common type of damages in severance pay that includes termination based on wrongful termination are:
- Back Pay: This is all the money you would have earned if you weren’t unjustly fired. This includes wages, vacation time, sick leave, health insurance, and pension benefits.
- Attorney Fees: You can request that your employer pay your attorney’s fees.
- Compensatory Damages: Payment to compensate for humiliation, pain and suffering, emotional distress and loss of reputation.
Contact Us Regarding Your Severance Pay
Severance agreements are complicated. This means they must be carefully negotiated so that you receive the compensation you deserve without waiving your rights to more money. An experienced employment attorney will know how to protect you during highly complicated negotiations. As your employment attorneys, we investigate your case, evaluate your employer’s severance policy, negotiate and analyze the legal terms of the agreement.
We are HKM Employment Attorneys. With offices in Atlanta, we are a national employment law firm representing workers like you who are seeking severance pay. Contact us immediately for help with getting the money you deserve from your former employer or with any severance-related concerns.