Massachusetts is an at-will employment state, meaning that your employer can fire you without giving a set reason. Due to this, most businesses and organizations don’t bother with creating employee separation agreements. The exception to the rule is when the employer sees a benefit to ensuring the employee signs an exit contract. This could be to protect trade secrets, establish non-compete clauses, or outline severance package details.
Before you decide to sign a separation agreement, it’s in your best interests to reach out to an attorney. Based in Boston, the law firm of HKM Employment Attorneys has seasoned legal representatives available to help you review the details of your contract. With an employee separation agreement lawyer on your side, you can ensure you get the best deal.
What is a Business Separation Agreement?
A business separation agreement is a document that outlines certain terms and conditions for termination. It could potentially prohibit you from sharing any trade secrets learned when working for your former employer or it may restrict your ability to file a lawsuit against them in the future. Oftentimes, in order to entice the employee to sign, the agreement will include some form of a severance package or additional benefits.
It may be tempting to go ahead and sign the agreement, especially when you see you’re being offered an additional payout. After all, it’s not every day where someone gets fired and is offered a lump sum on their way out.
But as tempted as you might be, it is always best to bring the contract to an employee separation agreement lawyer like those at HKM Employment Attorneys. We can help you see through the legalese and jargon to get to the root of what the contract is asking you to agree to. In the end, you may be getting a worse deal than you originally thought.
What Should I Ask My Employer in a Separation Agreement?
A good separation agreement should be in both the interest of the employer and employee. Therefore before signing, ask your employer about:
A legally binding non-disclosure agreement will specify what you’re prevented from sharing with a future employer. This could include trade secrets, customer lists, or business finances.
Noncompetition agreements must follow state law in order to be legally binding. The contract should state how long the non-compete clause is valid for, as well as which specific activities are restricted and within which geographical areas. According to Massachusetts state law, your employer must also grant you garden leave, or offer an equivalent program.
Taxes and Insurance
In some agreements, employers will continue to pay for an employee’s health insurance for a set period of time after they are let go.
Severance Package Details
If you’re being offered a severance package, then the contract should detail whether you’ll receive the payment in one lump sum or over a duration of time.
Does Massachusetts Law Require Severance Pay?
Massachusetts labor laws don’t require an employer to offer you severance pay. However, if your boss chooses to provide you with severance pay, they must comply with the employment contract or established policies.
According to Massachusetts state law, if you have worked for at least three years in certain industries, you are entitled to severance pay for two weeks for each year worked. If you’re not sure if you work in an industry that receives severance pay, reach out to a lawyer today.
What Happens If I Don’t Sign a Separation Agreement?
When offered a separation contract, your employer should give you a reasonable amount of time to consider whether or not you agree. Some employers may try to pressure you to accept the terms immediately, but you have a right to have a lawyer review any legal document before you sign anything.
By choosing not to sign the agreement, you will likely not receive the benefits or severance package being offered. However, this doesn’t mean that you are at a loss. If your attorney reviewed the contract and they believe you can get a bigger payout by filing a discrimination or harassment lawsuit, then that may be the best decision for your interests.
Can You Negotiate a Separation Agreement?
If your employer wants you to sign a separation agreement to protect trade secrets or prevent a lawsuit, then they should be willing to negotiate with you on the terms of your contract. One of our Boston-based employee counseling lawyers can review your agreement and decide which areas are your best bet for negotiating terms.
Should I Sign a Termination Agreement?
Discuss it with an attorney first. Your employer has already used a corporate lawyer to draft the ideal agreement for their needs. The only way for you to know if your separation agreement is offering you a fair deal is to have representation of your own.
Our legal team at HKM Employment Attorneys has years of experience in the various practice areas of employment law. We can use this experience to take a nuanced look at your agreement and help you determine what you may be missing out on should you accept.
Schedule a consultation with an employment lawyer at HKM Employment Attorneys today to discuss your agreement.