The employment market has changed a lot over the years. In the past, an employee could expect to work for the same employer from their 20s until their retirement. Nowadays, it is more likely for people to have several employers throughout their career.
As an employee, sometimes your employment relationship ends when you choose to leave, and sometimes your employer terminates your employment or lays you off. For the latter, the employer may offer you a severance package.
Severance is a separation agreement to continue receiving specified benefits and a set sum of money after you no longer work for a job. It’s often essential that you speak with an experienced employment lawyer before you sign a severance offer or accept the terms. Your attorney can help ensure that the offer is fair and you get the best possible deal.
HKM Employment Attorneys of Bellevue, Washington, is dedicated to helping employees near Seattle get their due in the workplace. We specialize in a number of practice areas surrounding employment law. As your severance pay attorneys, we’ll use that experience to review your severance package and protect your best interests.
Should I Have a Lawyer Review My Severance Agreement?
Yes! It’s essential to have a severance pay lawyer look at your severance agreement. Severance pay is a voluntary benefit, so Washington law does not require your employer to provide it. However, if the employer promised you severance during your employment contract, it becomes legally binding.
Washington courts will only enforce the terms of a valid employment contract regarding severance pay. This is why it’s pertinent to consult a severance pay lawyer in Bellevue before signing your employment contract to see whether you can negotiate with the employer to include severance pay.
Can I Sue for Severance Pay?
Although severance pay is a voluntary benefit in Washington, you can sue your employer for failure to provide it as promised in your employment contract or policy handbook. Promises of severance pay, either verbal or in writing, are legally binding, and the law requires your employer to adhere to its terms.
If you were promised severance pay and your employer is now denying it to you, contact an employment attorney or severance pay lawyer to support you through the process of filing a claim or lawsuit in a Washington court.
Do I Need an Employment Lawyer to Negotiate Severance?
It’s best to hire a lawyer to negotiate your severance agreement. Not everyone receives severance pay, so it may be tempting to accept it immediately after your termination. However, it’s important to have an attorney review the fine print of the agreement before you sign.
The severance pay agreement may include terms that are unfavorable to you. For example, it could ask that you waive the right to sue your employer in the future, even though you may have a valid claim for previous discrimination or wrongful termination.
Do you suspect that you are facing a layoff? It may be worth it to consult with an attorney sooner rather than later. A lawyer can help you explore your options and be prepared in the following scenarios:
- If you signed an employment agreement that promised severance terms
- If your employer has a companywide severance policy
- If your employment manual has severance terms that apply to a person in your position
Seek the advice of a severance pay lawyer that Bellevue residents trust. Our attorneys have extensive negotiation experience that we can use to ensure you get the best possible deal.
How Do You Figure Out Severance Pay?
A severance package may include several things, such as:
- Compensation or payments based on your years of service
- Insurance benefits
- Payment for unused sick leave or vacation time
- Bonus payments
- Stock options
Severance is not mandatory in Washington, and many employers don’t pay it. However, those who opt to pay it usually offer one or two weeks of pay per year of employment. For example, if you worked at the company for 12 years, you might receive 12 weeks of severance.
However, severance pay can be more, especially if your unemployment will create an economic hardship. The general practice is to aim for four weeks of pay for each year worked. Additionally, higher ranked employees like managers and executives may receive a higher amount.
On top of severance pay, a lawyer can help you negotiate for the following:
- Insurance coverage
- Retirement or pension plans and stock
- Company perks, such as a laptop
- Announcement of departure and recommendation letter
Your former employer likely wants to make your termination and severance process as civil as possible to maintain a fair workplace reputation. Having a good employment lawyer will give you more room to bargain for the ideal severance package for your needs.
Consult with Experienced Severance Pay Lawyers
If you feel aggrieved or shortchanged by your employer in your severance agreement, HKM Employment Attorneys can help. A severance pay lawyer in Bellevue will look at your case and act as your advocate for fair severance pay and benefits. We can also help identify your risk exposure, draft contracts, negotiate on your behalf, and ensure legal compliance.
We help our clients seek favorable resolutions where possible and, if need be, represent them before arbitrators, mediators, or a court of law. Reach out to our Bellevue office today for a consultation to review your case with one of our employment attorneys.